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At the scientific session of the American Diabetic Association meeting in San Diego, Finnish researchers presented evidence that juvenile diabetes may be caused by genetically susceptible children taking cow's milk in the first 6 months of life.

When a germ gets into your bloodstream, your immune system makes proteins called antibodies that attach to and kill that germ. Unfortunately, your immune system makes antibodies against almost all proteins that get into your bloodstream. Adults are protected from making antibodies against proteins in food because they have intact intestines that do not allow whole proteins to pass into their blood streams, but in the first few months of life, infants have holes in their intestines that allow proteins to pass into their bloodstream.

The Finnish researchers showed that cow's milk contains cow insulin that is similar, but not exactly the same as, human insulin. So when cow's milk is taken by infants in the first three months of life, the cow insulin can pass into their blood streams and those genetically susceptible to diabetes develop antibodies that attach to and kill the beta cells of the pancreas that make insulin, causing permeant loss of insulin and diabetes. Other studies show that almost all mothers in Puerto Rico feed cow's milk to their infants. In Cuba, almost all mothers feed from their breasts. Type I diabetes is ten times more common in Puerto Rico than in Cuba. On the basis of this and much other research, those of you who have a family history of diabetes should try to feed your infant from your breast.

* Among infants with family history of juvenile diabetes, those on cow's milk have a much higher incidence of diabetes than those on breast milk.

* Among animals bred to develop diabetes, infant animals given cow's milk have a much higher incidence of diabetes.

* Human babies with antibodies against cow's insulin have a much higher incidence of diabetes.(this study)

* In Puerto Rico, almost all babies get cow's milk. In Cuba, almost all babies are breast fed. Puerto Rican babies are more than 10 times more likely to suffer juvenile diabetes.

1)Burke JP et al. Rapid rise in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes from 1987 to 1996. Archives of Internal Medicine. 1999(July 12);159:1450-1456.

2)Vaarala, M Knip, J Paronen, AM Hamalainen, P Muona, M Vaatainen, J Ilonen, O Simell, HK Akerblom. Cow's milk formula feeding induces primary immunization to insulin in infants at genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. Diabetes, 1999, Vol 48, Iss 7, pp 1389-13947884.

3)LC Harrison, MC Honeyman. Cow's milk and type 1 diabetes - The real debate is about mucosal immune function.Diabetes, 1999, Vol 48, Iss 8, pp 1501-1507.

checked 8/9/05

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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