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Gluten may not influence babies' risk of developing Type 1 diabetes

NEW YORK — Introducing a gluten-free diet to an infant may not reduce its risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, according to a new study published in Diabetes Care.

German researchers analyzed data pooled from 150 infants with a first-degree family history of Type 1 diabetes and randomly exposed them to gluten at the age of 6 months (control group) or 12 months (late-exposure group). The infants then were followed until 3 years of age (and annually thereafter for safety purposes).

The researchers found that 70% of families followed the dietary-intervention protocol, and that only seven children developed diabetes: three from the early-exposure group and four in the late-exposure group.

The study authors concluded that while delaying gluten exposure until a child reaches 12 months of age is safe, doing so will not substantially reduce the risk of diabetes.

The study was submitted to the journal in late December 2010 and was published April 22.

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