According to a new study, introducing probiotics to infants during their first 27 days of life could reduce their chances of developing type 1 diabetes later in life. The study was conducted among approximately 7,500 infants split between three regions in North America and three regions across Europe.
Researchers took blood samples every three months for the first three years, and then every six months after that. Probiotics were given to the infants either through supplementation for breastfeeding mothers or through a fortified formula.
Children were between the ages of four and 10 when final results were determined. Study results revealed that there was a 60% reduction in islet autoimmunity, a predetermining condition for type 1 diabetes, in infants who received probiotics during their first 27 days of life.
Probiotics is commonly used among adults to promote gut health. It is also used as a preventative measure against diarrhea, upset stomachs, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal infections and more. The use of probiotics in children isn’t something that’s been prevalent in North America. However, countries in Europe have been including probiotics in their infants’ diets more frequently.
“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,” says Ulla Uusitalo the study’s lead researcher. Uusitalo further suggests that although the results show there’s a connection, no assumptions of causality can be stated.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body destroys insulin cells from the pancreas. Unlike type 2 diabetes which is brought on by an individual’s diet (among other factors), type 1 diabetes is a disease that forms genetically.
The reason doctors believe introducing probiotics during the first 27 days of an infant’s life may play a factor in reducing the risk of diabetes is because of the immaturity of the gut. The antibodies in the gut are still not formed during that time period, so study researchers believe that introducing positive antibodies found in probiotics can essentially change the makeup of the gut before it forms into that diabetic state.
Results were published in the most recent edition of the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Shapiro, M., “Dr. Marla: Probiotics and an impact on diabetes in infants,” CTV News web site, last updated November 10, 2015; http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/health/dr-marla-probiotics-and-an-impact-on-diabetes-in-infants-1.2650795, last accessed November 12, 2015.
“Giving Infants Probiotics Reduces Diabetes Risk,” Newsmax web site, November 11, 2015; http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/infants-probiotics-reduces-Type-1-diabetes/2015/11/11/id/701694/.