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From Willis, Texas, USA:

Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of a news TV show on which a woman from Baylor University was suggesting that using rice cereal for infants at bedtime can cause type 1 diabetes. Can you expand on this?


As long ago as the end of World War II it was realised that there was a connection between wheat protein and celiac disease, so that it was not surprising that when both type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes and celiac disease were both recognised as components of the Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type II that there should be an interest in whether early cereal feeding to infants could be a factor in causing diabetes.

The evidence is mixed, but one quite recent study showed in infants who were at increased genetic risk of developing diabetes, there was a significant increase in the diabetogenic autoantibodies in those that were introduced to cereal before the end of the third month or after the sixth month. Biochemical studies have shown that the gliadin component of the cereal protein which is supposedly the culprit is also present in barley, rye and oats but not in rice, soy or maize. For this reason, I would personally be reluctant to accept a single study that suggested that giving rice at bedtime was a cause for clinical diabetes in children.


[Editor's comment: See Timing of Initial Cereal Exposure in Infancy and Risk of Islet Autoimmunity Jill M. Norris, MPH, PhD; Katherine Barriga, MSPH; Georgeanna Klingensmith, MD; Michelle Hoffman, RN; George S. Eisenbarth, MD, PhD; Henry A. Erlich, MD, PhD; Marian Rewers, MD, PhD JAMA. 2003;290:1713-1720. and Early Infant Feeding and Risk of Developing Type 1 Diabetes–Associated Autoantibodies Anette-G. Ziegler, MD; Sandra Schmid, PhD; Doris Huber; Michael Hummel, MD; Ezio Bonifacio, PhD JAMA. 2003;290:1721-1728. WWQ]

Original posting 6 Oct 2003
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


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