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For decades, researchers have puzzled over why type 1 diabetes is becoming more common. Type 1 diabetes is a serious disease in which the body destroys the cells that make insulin. Insulin tells cells to take up sugar from your blood. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.
Researchers have wondered whether infant formula made from cow’s milk might cause children to develop type 1 diabetes. Studies suggested that early exposure to the complex proteins in cow’s milk might lead the body to mistakenly attack the cells that make insulin.
To test this idea, researchers used two formulas. One group of infants received a formula made from cow’s milk. The other received a formula made from cow’s milk that was processed to break complex proteins into small pieces. All the infants enrolled in the study had a genetic makeup that put them at higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
The mothers were encouraged to use the assigned formula whenever they didn’t breastfeed. The analysis included infants who were fed formula at least 60 days.
The results showed that the chance of developing type 1 diabetes by age 10 was the same for children in both groups. The complex proteins in cow’s milk did not raise the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
“This once more shows us that there is no easy way to prevent type 1 diabetes,” says researcher Dr. Dorothy Becker at the University of Pittsburgh.
Note: The title and text of this story were updated on March 9, 2018, because information was incomplete or may have given the wrong impression.