Current evidence on the associations of breastfeeding, infant formula, and cow's milk introduction with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review

Nutr Rev. 2012 Sep;70(9):509-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00513.x.


Current evidence provides contradictory results in regards to the associations of breastfeeding or early introduction of cow's milk and formula with the development of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the type of feeding, duration of breastfeeding, time of introduction of formula or cow's milk, and the potential impact on developing T1D. The literature search was conducted based on the standards outlined in the MOOSE Guidelines for Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews of Observational Studies and yielded a total of 161 studies, 28 of which were included in this review. Twenty seven of the included studies were case-control and one was a prospective cohort study. Eight of the studies indicated breastfeeding has a protective role against the development of T1D. Seven additional studies emphasized that a short period or absence of breastfeeding could be a risk factor for T1D development. The results of this systematic review indicate a short duration and/or a lack of breastfeeding may constitute a risk factor for the development of T1D later in life.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Formula* / administration & dosage
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk / immunology*
  • Milk, Human / immunology
  • Milk, Human / physiology*
  • Time Factors