Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Ask the Diabetes Team

From America OnLine:

I read a previous question you answered about cow's milk contributing to the onset of diabetes in children. I would still like to be able to read about this study linking the two myself. Could you tell me where to read about this study, and is anyone trying to do followup research to help prove or disprove it?

Did the study mention anything about goat's milk versus cow's milk?


This question was referred to our two pediatric endocrinologists, who have each given an answer:

Answer from Dr. Lebinger:

Here are some references regarding the information about the possible link between early exposure to cow's milk protein and increased risk of developing Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus:

  1. Karjalainen J, Martin JM, et al. A Bovine albumin peptide as a possible trigger of IDDM. N Engl J Med 1992; 327: 302-7
  2. Atkinson MA, Bowman MS et al. Lack of immune responsivenes to bovine serum albumin in IDDM. N Engl J Med 1993; 329: 1853-8.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Cow's Milk Protein and Diabetes Mellitus. Infant feeding practices and their possible relationship to the etiology of diabetes mellitus. Pediatrcs 1994; 94: 752-4.
  4. Scott FW. AAP recommendations on cow milk, soy, and early infant feeding. Pediatrics 1995; 96: 515-17
  5. Ivarssossn SA, Mansson MUL, Jakobsson IL. IgG antibodies to bovine serum albumin are not increased in children with IDDM. Diabetes1995; 44: 1349-1350.
  6. Levy-Marchal C, Karjalainen J, et al. Antibodies against bovine albumin and other diabetes markers in French children. Diabetes Care 1995; 18: 1089-94.

According to Robert Elliott, MD, from New Zealand, goat's milk fed as the sole diet to mice who are genetically susceptible to developing diabetes did not suppress the appearance of diabetes. (Elliott RB. Cows Milk and the Diabetes Debate. Pediatrics: 1995; 96 :541). I'm not aware of any information in humans.


Answer from Dr. Robertson:

The prospective Finnish study has not yet been completed. The evidence is therefore still incomplete and at a recent meeting of the European Diabetes Intervention Trials group, the feeling was that it was too early to draw any conclusions.

I enclose a couple of references that I found.

  1. Virtanen SM. Saukkonen T. Savilahti E. Ylonen K. Rasanen L. Aro A. Knip M. Tuomilehto J. Akerblom HK. (Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Helsinki, Finland.) Diet, cow's milk protein antibodies and the risk of IDDM in Finnish children. Childhood Diabetes in Finland Study Group. Diabetologia. 37(4):381-7, 1994 Apr.

    Abstract: Associations of infant feeding patterns and milk consumption with cow's milk protein antibody titres were studied in 697 newly-diagnosed diabetic children, 415 sibling-control children and 86 birth-date- and sex-matched population-based control children in the nationwide "Childhood Diabetes in Finland" study. IgA and IgG antibody titres to the proteins of cow's milk formula, BLG and BSA, and IgM antibody titres to cow's milk formula proteins were measured by ELISA. Several inverse correlations were observed between the duration of breast-feeding or age at introduction of dairy products and antibody titres, and positive correlations were observed between milk consumption and antibody titres in all three populations studied. Multivariate analyses which included the infant feeding variables, milk consumption and current age simultaneously showed that the earlier the introduction of dairy products and the greater the consumption of milk was, the higher several antibody titres were. High IgA antibody titres to cow's milk formula were associated with a greater risk of IDDM both among diabetic-population-control and diabetic-sibling-control pairs when adjusted for other cow's milk antibody titres, dietary variables and in diabetic-sibling-control pairs also for ICA. The results suggest that young age at introduction of dairy products and high milk consumption during childhood increase the levels of cow's milk antibodies and that high IgA antibodies to cow's milk formula are independently associated with increased risk of IDDM.

  2. Akerblom HK. Savilahti E. Saukkonen TT. Paganus A. Virtanen SM. Teramo K. Knip M. Ilonen J. Reijonen H. Karjalainen J. et al. (Children's Hospital, II Department of Pediatrics, University of Helsinki, Finland.) The case for elimination of cow's milk in early infancy in the prevention of type 1 diabetes: the Finnish experience. [Review] Diabetes-Metabolism Reviews. 9(4):269-78, 1993 Dec.


Original posting 29 May 96


  Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Return to the Top of This Page

Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2018. Comments and Feedback.