THURSDAY, Nov. 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Adding probiotics to an infant’s feedings in the first month of life may reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes for those genetically predisposed to the disease, according to research published online Nov. 9 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Researchers looked at an ongoing prospective study from six medical centers — three in the United States and three in Europe. The final study sample included 7,473 children between 4 and 10 years old. Blood samples were taken every three months from age 3 months to 48 months to detect signs of type 1 diabetes. Samples were taken every six months after that. Parents completed questionnaires and food diaries to detail infant feeding and probiotic supplement use from birth to 3 months. Mothers provided information on their diets during pregnancy as well.
The researchers found that probiotic use in the first 27 days was linked to reduced odds of type 1 diabetes by 60 percent for children with the highest risk of developing the disease. These children had the DR3/4 genotype, the researchers said. Children without that genetic makeup didn’t benefit from the early probiotics. And no one seemed to benefit from later probiotic use.
“Early probiotic exposure during the first 27 days is associated with a decreased risk of type 1 diabetes among those who have the highest genetic risk of type 1 diabetes,” lead researcher Ulla Uusitalo, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of pediatric epidemiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told HealthDay. However, Uusitalo noted that because of the study’s design, the researchers “cannot make a conclusion about causality.” But she stressed that because the association was so strong, these findings warrant further study.