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Home Wellness Research Diabetes Childhood Diabetes and Cereals

Childhood Diabetes and Cereals

Saturday, 01 November 2003 12:32

Two studies published this week in JAMA show that early introduction of both rice cereal and gluten-containing foods (oats and wheat) into an infant’s diet can stimulate the production of diabetes-associated autoantibodies. In these studies infants were chosen who had a family history of type 1 (child onset) diabetes or who themselves carried the gene for diabetes.

Infants fed cereal prior to three months of age were four times as likely to develop these autoantibodies against pancreatic tissue compared to infants who delayed cereal introduction until four to six months of age. This does not mean that these children developed diabetes, but they did develop autoantibodies, which are associated with diabetes onset. What does this mean? Here is what the researchers concluded:
A hypothesis could be explored about increased carbohydrate load in infancy and its impact on the pancreas and the immune system.… Carbohydrate loading in infancy may stimulate the pancreas to secrete more insulin, resulting in an increase in the expression of the autoantigens, which ultimately may increase the risk of islet cell [pancreas] destruction.

Interestingly, if cereal introduction was delayed until age seven months or older, the risk of autoantibody production was five times greater than for those infants where cereal was introduced at ages four to six months. Again the authors speculate that delaying cereals that are supplemented with vitamins and minerals could increase the risk of autoimmunity since both vitamin E and zinc are associated with a decreased risk of type 1 diabetes. They also note that older babies were more likely to have a larger quantity of cereals than younger infants, thus increasing the carbohydrate load at initial cereal introduction in those children over seven months old.

Additionally, if a baby was still breastfeeding when cereals were introduced the risk of autoantibody ormation was reduced no matter what the age of the baby.

What is the take home message from these two studies?

  • First, cereals can stimulate an autoimmune response in infants
  • Second, breastfeeding helps to protect the infant from the development of autoimmune reactions
  • Third, a deficiency of vitamins and minerals could lead to autoimmune reactions

My advice is that anyone with a family history of childhood onset diabetes should avoid giving infant cereal, rice products, oats, or wheat. This is another instance of the damage that can be caused by grains. We already know that infants fed cereals early in life have a higher risk of developing allergies and eczema later, and a higher risk of acquiring celiac disease. Babies will do fine without cereal if their mothers eat a diet rich in natural foods and adequate protein and take a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Babies should be tested for anemia at eight or nine months of age because maternal iron stores will wear out around six months. Then solid food introduction should begin with fruits and vegetables at age five or six months.

Green vegetables are high in iron and homemade soups that include leafy green vegetables will help to prevent anemia. Introduction of grains should be delayed in all infants until they are eight to ten months old or avoided entirely if there is a family history of food allergies or diabetes. And continue breastfeeding until well past the baby’s first birthday because of breast milk’s protective effect against many diseases.

For article references visit: www.icpa4kids.com
For additional information on Dr. Randall visit: www.cure-guide.com