Splitting Proteins In Cow’s Milk Does Not Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

A large international study revealed that splitting the proteins in cow’s milk does not prevent type 1 diabetes in children who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Research had suggested that early exposure to the complex foreign proteins in cow’s milk could raise the chances for type 1 diabetes onset in young children with specific genetic risk factors.

The current study, led in the U.S. by Dorothy Becker, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, began in 2002. It involved 2,159 infants carrying genetic risk for type 1 development, and with a family member affected by type 1 diabetes.

After the infants stopped breastfeeding, each child was weaned to either a regular cow’s milk formula containing intact proteins, or to a hydrolyzed casein formula where the cow’s milk proteins had been split into small pieces called peptides.

The infants were given their formula for a minimum of two months, until the age of 6 to 8 months. During that time, they ingested no cow’s milk proteins from other food sources. Then, to see which of the children developed diabetes, the study participants were followed by the investigators for at least 10 years.

The data showed, after 11.5 years of follow up, that giving infants the hydrolyzed split-protein milk formula did not lead to less incidence of type 1 diabetes, when compared to infants given the intact-protein milk formula. These findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“After more than 15 years of effort, this study puts to rest the controversy regarding the potential role of cow's milk formula in the development of type 1 diabetes,” said Becker. “This once more shows us that there is no easy way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Accordingly, there is no evidence to revise the current dietary recommendations for infants at high risk for type 1 diabetes. We need to chip away at our research efforts around the world to find interventions that may change the pre-diabetes course. Ongoing work of our study is doing just that.”

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: nerissa’s ring

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