Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Cereal May Trigger Type 1 Diabetes

Introducing Gluten Products Too Early or Too Late May Increase Risk

Window of Exposure continued...

"It may be that the immune system, even in older babies, requires a gradual introduction of foods, and that introducing too much of a particular food at one time presents a problem," Norris says.

She adds that the best thing parents of at-risk children can do is follow the American Academy of Pediatrics infant feeding guidelines, which call for solid foods to be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.

"I think many people may assume that waiting can't hurt, but this study suggests that it can, at least for high-risk populations," she says. "And it certainly doesn't appear to help."

Experts Urge Caution

The second newly reported study involved 1,610 German children at high risk for type 1 diabetes who were followed from birth to age 8. Researchers examined whether exposures to breast milk, cow's milk, solid foods, and gluten-containing foods such as cereals were associated with an increase in diabetes risk.

They found that babies fed cereal or other gluten-containing foods before the age of 3 months were five times as likely to develop the antibodies that lead to type 1 diabetes as children exposed to dietary gluten at 3 months or older. Early introduction of cow's milk was not found to increase risk.

"Certainly it does not appear from these studies that cow's milk is a risk factor for this group of children," researcher Ezio Bonifacio, PhD, tells WebMD. "But in our study all of the children had a mother or father with type 1 diabetes. It doesn't rule out the effect of cow's milk in children without a genetic predisposition."

In an editorial accompanying the studies, diabetes researcher's Mark Atkinson, PhD, and Edwin Gale, MD, urged clinicians and parents to use caution when interpreting the findings.

"It is clear that (these studies) do not present sufficient evidence to suggest that 'infant cereal causes diabetes,' and hopefully will not be misinterpreted as such by parents and the public," they wrote.

Atkinson tells WebMD that even after two decades of research, the environmental trigger or triggers for type 1 diabetes remain unidentified.

"I think these studies do put cereal at or near the top of the list of potential triggers, but we still have to look for other agents," he says. "I feel for the families of these children because every few years there is a new idea about what causes type 1 diabetes, and, so far, none of them has been proven [to be a cause]."

1|2

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article