(AP) -- Introducing cereal too early or too late in
infancy might increase the odds of diabetes in children already at risk
for the disease, a study suggests.
Another study found a similar risk for introducing gluten-containing foods
Both studies suggest that starting solid food at the wrong time could
overwhelm at-risk infants' immature immune systems and trigger changes
that might lead to diabetes.
The preliminary findings are far from proof, and the researchers
themselves said the results should not prompt any changes in babies'
Still, the research is provocative and could reveal some of the
environmental triggers that might contribute to some cases of diabetes.
The studies -- one from the
, the other from
-- are published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
Both involved youngsters already at risk for juvenile diabetes because of
genes or family members already afflicted. Both studies also compared the
timing of the introduction of solid food in infancy with the development
of antibodies that sometimes lead to juvenile diabetes.
Doctors frequently recommend starting solid food -- usually cereal --
between the ages of 4 months and 6 months.
researcher Jill Norris and colleagues found a fourfold increased risk of
developing pre-diabetes antibodies in babies started on any type of cereal
before the recommended period, and a fivefold higher risk for those fed
Norris said it might be that introducing solid food too soon induces the
production of antibodies that destroy insulin-producing cells in the
pancreas. Starting solid food after 7 months might also might overload
infants' still-developing immune systems, Norris said.
Her study involved 1,183 children followed for an average of about four
years. Only 34 children showed persistent evidence of the pertinent
antibodies, and only 16 actually developed diabetes.
The average age for developing juvenile diabetes is around 11, and more of
the children studied might develop it when they get older, Norris said.
The other study, from the Diabetes Research Institute in
, involved 1,610 children followed for an average of about six years. It
found an increased risk in introducing solids earlier than 4 months of age
-- but only with foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat and
pediatrician Dr. Michael Wasserman of the Ochsner Clinic Foundation said
the theory that the introduction of certain foods induces diabetes
"doesn't make intuitive sense and yet it may be scientifically
correct based on information we don't yet know."
NOT JUST GENETICALLY ENGINEER WOMEN FOR MILK?
MAdGE (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering in Food and the Environment)
today launched a highly controversial billboard campaign in
to provoke public debate about the social and cultural ethics of genetic
The billboards depict a naked, genetically engineered woman with four
breasts being milked by a milking machine, and GE branded on her rump.
"New Zealanders are allowing a handful of corporate scientists and
ill-informed politicians to make decisions on the ethics of GE. Our
largest science company, AgResearch, is currently putting human genes into
cows in the hope of creating new designer milks. The ethics of such
experiments have not even been discussed by the wider public. How
far will we allow them to go? Where is the line in the sand? Why is
the government lifting the moratorium on GE when we have not even had a
public debate on ethics?" said Alannah Currie Madge founder and
ís largest milk company recently purchased the patent rights to large
amounts of human DNA from an Australian genetics company. (Dominionpost
15.9.2003) "The mothers of
would like to know
exactly what our milk company are doing with this human DNA. We at MAdGE
want an assurance from Fonterra that they will continue to keep our milk
GE Free now and in the future and not use human genes in cows to boost
milk production." said Ms Currie.