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Diabetes and Young Children

July 16, 2013

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 13,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with the autoimmune disease type-1 diabetes.  The health condition is very dangerous, because the pancreas is robbed of the ability to produce insulin.  This precious hormone is necessary to convert food and sugar into energy.  Insulin therapy can fortunately help manage this disorder, but even then there are many challenges and other health complications can develop.

According to the American Diabetes Association, various factors lead to type-1 diabetes in children.  First of all, risk factors seem to come from both parents.  Researchers suspect that viruses and other environmental factors then trigger the onset.    There is also some evidence that even cold weather may be a trigger, since the condition develops more often in cold climates and in winter more often than summer. 

The timing of first solid food has long been the focus of type-1 diabetes and other children’s health and development research.  Jill Norris, MPH, PhD and her colleagues recently published results from a study that they completed involving 1,835 children with increased genetic risk of type-1 diabetes.  baby spoonFifty-three of these youngsters were diagnosed with type-1 diabetes.   Early-life diets were the focus for the study’s outcomes.  The authors concluded that it is safest to introduce solid foods to babies at genetic risk between four and five months of age.  They further reported that early introduction to fruit and late exposure to oat and rice are predictors of type-1 diabetes and that breastfeeding while introducing new foods decreased the risk.  Dr. Norris says that more studies are necessary to corroborate the findings.   

From → Health

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