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Curr Diab Rep. 2015 Sep;15(9):62. doi: 10.1007/s11892-015-0628-z.

Infant Feeding and Timing of Complementary Foods in the Development of Type 1 Diabetes.

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Department of Nutrition, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 3995, Atlanta, GA, 30303-3995, USA.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that results from the destruction of the β cells of the pancreas in genetically at-risk individuals. The autoimmune process that precedes the development of T1D is believed to be triggered by environmental factors, including nutrition. Early introduction of complementary foods has been implicated in the etiology of T1D as a possible explanation of the increasing incidence of the disease, particularly in children younger than 5 years of age. Infant feeding recommendations have been designed to promote adequate growth, provide essential nutrients, and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months of age followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced. A lack of compliance with these recommendations has been observed in the general population as well as in infants at high risk for T1D. Dietary factors such as the provision of breast milk and duration of breastfeeding, the age at introduction of cow's milk and gluten-containing foods, as well as other complementary feeding have been investigated. However, the evidence that early infant feeding patterns are linked with T1D currently remains inconclusive.

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