Early Nutrition and Later Diabetes Risk

  • Mikael Knip
  • Hans K. Åkerblom
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 569)


Early feeding may modify the risk of both type 1 (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) later in life. The information generated so far is, however, controversial. When evaluating studies on the impact of early feeding on risk of later diabetes, the data have to be assessed critically and possible confounding factors have to be considered. The study design may induce biases and there are considerable differences in early feeding practices across various countries and cultures. Accordingly it may not be possible to generalise observations based on one population. Long breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding in particular, and supplementation with vitamin D in infancy have been reported to confer partial protection against beta-cell f autoimmunity and T1D. In contrast, early exposure to cow’s milk proteins and cereals and heavy weight in infancy have been implicated as risk factors for T1D. Long breastfeeding has also been observed to psrotect against T2D in aboriginal populations. Poor fetal nutrition resulting in low birth weight has been identified as a factor contributing to later insulin resistance and T2D. Recent data indicate that current overweight and obesity are stronger determinants of insulin resistance than birth weight among preschool children. High-nutrient diet and rapid growth in early infancy have been reported to adversely programme the principal components of the metabolic syndrome including insulin resistance and T2D. It is an important scientific and public-health m objective to define protective and predisposing effects of early nutrition on the development of diabetes, since early feeding can potentially be modified to minimise the risk of later chronic diseases.

Key words

Beta-cell autoimmunity breastfeeding cereals cow’s milk growth insulin resistance type 1 diabetes type 2 diabetes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikael Knip
    • 1
  • Hans K. Åkerblom
    • 1
  1. 1.Hospital for Children and AdolescentsUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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