Researchers link diabetes, milk during infancy

July 30, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

In a discovery that could lead to a revolution in the way infants are fed, researchers have implicated exposure to a common milk protein during the first nine months of life as a major cause of insulin-dependent diabetes, which affects more than 1 million Americans.

If confirmed by further studies, the controversial findings by Canadian and Finnish researchers could bring about a sharp decrease in the incidence of diabetes. About one-quarter of the population is genetically susceptible to diabetes.

"If this is true, we should be able to prevent the disease altogether," said Dr. Hans-Michael Dosch, a pediatric immunologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and leader of the research team.

The study is reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Reaction to the study by other researchers and experts in diabetes was cautious. "It's very important, but it needs more work and more confirmation," said Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, a diabetologist at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and president of the American Diabetes Association.

"It does not mean that children should stop drinking milk or that parents of diabetics should withdraw dairy products. These are rich sources of good protein."

The link between cow's milk and diabetes has been an issue for more than a decade.

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