A study conducted in Sweden by Jeanette Wahlberg, Outi Vaarala and Johnny Ludvigsson, published in the British Journal of Nutrition 2006, concludes that breast feeding your baby less than 3 months can increase the risk for your child to get type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease. While it is known that type 1 diabetes is a multifactorial disease and can also be inherited through genetics this study opens up a new aspect. In this study dietary risk factors in children were studied in relation to autoantibodies (GADA and IA-2A). In this 3 year long study a total of 17055 newborns were observed, and information were obtained at the time of birth, at 1 year of age and and at 2½ years of age. Blood samples, urine, stool and hair were obtained from the children and analyzed. A questionnaire was also given to the parents in order to obtain information about the duration of breast feeding and introduction to diets containing gluten and milk.
As mentioned before type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys it’s own β-cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is vital for all body cells to allow glucose to enter the cells. Since type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, autoantibodies such as GADA and IA-2A can be found in the blood. In symptomatic adults these antibodies confirm the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, whereas in infants they serve as an indicator for an increased risk level to develop type 1 diabetes mellitus.