Baby Formula and Diabetes

Baby formula and diabetes, a contentious subject. For many people Baby Formula is where the lifelong addictions to sugar begins.  I would urge everyone to read this post, it lays important ground work for de-programming.

  • TRIGR baby formula study
  • Baby Formula and AGE study


This post is guest authored by a Type 1 Diabetic, who wishes to remain anonymous. My comments are in block quotes and in the Summary.

Baby Formula and Diabetes

Ever since I was a little girl (having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 18 months of age) my mom has said that she thought there was a connection between  Similac Baby Formula and my diabetes (or was a contributing factor).  She had no basis for this, but I often wondered if she was right.   Could it be something as simple as this?

Baby Formula and Diabetes 

Recent studies are now linking baby formula to diabetes, as well as obesity and other illnesses.

When I was pregnant with my first child, this thought was in the back of my mind and I found out that there was a study going on, trying to find out if there was a connection between dairy, baby formula and diabetes.


I enrolled in TRIGR study. (Trial to Reduce Type 1 In the Genetically at Risk).  The hypothesis was that baby’s digestive system was too immature to process milk protein and this caused an autoimmune response by the body, attacking the beta cells in the pancreas.

Breast feeding was highly encouraged in the study. Those not breastfeeding would be given either regular baby formula or a formula where the proteins had been broken down, or hydrolyzed baby formula, namely Nutramigen.

The study recommended holding off dairy until the child was at least a year old.  Ultimately, both my children were screened out of the study because they didn’t have the genetic markers for diabetes (thank goodness) but I followed the dietary guidelines just in case.

The TRIGR study is still in progress.  It will follow the children enrolled until they are 10 years old, but the pilot study results are in.  The results were posted in the New England Journal of Medicine.  “One hundred thirteen infants were randomized to be weaned to the hydrolyzed study formula (Nutramigen) while 117 were randomized to be weaned to the cow’s milk based study formula.”

Steve Note: According to the manufacturer, Nutramigen® Lipil® is a hypoallergenic, lactose-free formula for babies who develop cow’s milk protein allergy symptoms such as excessive crying or rash. 

“Fifty participants (24%) developed at least one autoantibody by the age of 10 years; 17 (17%) in the hydrolysate group and 33 (30%) in the control group.  This observation indicates that the early dietary intervention applied reduced the frequency of at least one autoantibody by 46%.

Steve Note: Did you ‘get that’?  Autoantibody frequency reduction by 46%!!

What is an ‘autoantibody’?  Certain ones are strongly associated with Type 1 Diabetes, an auto immune disease, it’s caused by the body attacking and killing the pancreas’s beta cells. Beta Cells are the cells responsible for insulin production.

Per Wikipedia, “An autoantibody is an antibody (a type of protein) manufactured by the immune system that is directed against one or more of the individual’s own proteins.”

“At least two autoantibodies were observed in 25 children (12%); eight (8%) in the hydrolysate group (fed with Nutramigen) and 17 (16%) in the control group reflecting a reduction of 48% in the frequency of two or more autoantibodies in the hydrolysate group.

 Sixteen out of the 230 participants presented with clinical diabetes after observation up to the age of 10 years.  Seven (6%) were in the group randomized to the hydrolyzed formula and nine (8%) in the group randomized to the control formula.  This difference was not conspicuous.  However, three out of the seven who developed diabetes in the group randomized to receive hydrolyzed formula dropped out from the study before the first follow-up visit at the age of 3 months and were never exposed to any study formula.

When the comparison was adjusted according to the actual treatment received, four (4%) in the hydrolysate group and nine (8%) in the control group developed clinical diabetes suggesting that the hydrolysate intervention reduced the frequency of overt diabetes by 60%.” (Knip M, 2010)”

Steve Note: Let me repeat this for emphasis… the group fed hypoallergenic, lactose free baby food ( Nutramigen ) … saw a reduction in the frequency of OVERT Diabetes by 60%!!!

The full scale study is not complete, but these pilot study results definitely make me pause.  What other problems could formula cause?

Baby Formula & AGEs

According to Science Daily, researchers have found high levels of toxins in baby’s blood called Advanced Glycation End products.  These toxins which are toxic glucose byproducts can be caused by maternal blood transmission, from the mother’s diet, and are found in high concentrations in infant formula.

“Within the first year of life, after switching from breast milk onto commercial formulas, the infants’ AGEs had doubled to levels seen in people with diabetes, and many had elevated insulin levels.”

“Excessive food AGEs, through both maternal blood transmission and baby formula, could together significantly increase children’s risk for diseases such as diabetes from a very young age.”

Another study showing a possible  link between Baby Formula and Diabetes.

That’s some scary stuff.  Of course, not everyone can breast feed.  I personally had supply issues with my first two children and ultimately started infant formula.  Breast feeding is hard.   It can be extremely painful, and some babies have trouble latching on, which can cause or make these problems worse.  It can be extremely frustrating when it is not working out, and it can make a mom feel really guilty that she is failing her child.

Baby Formula and Diabetes
Baby Formula and Diabetes

The plot thickens however as hospitals are complicating matters by pushing mothers toward the typical cow’s milk baby formula…. .

Works Cited

Knip M, V. S. (2010). the Finnish TRIGR Study Group:. New England Journal of Medicine, 363, 1900-1908.

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine (2011, October 6). Baby formula: Inflammatory food toxins found in high levels in infants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 11, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/10/111005170730.htm

Baby Formula and Diabetes

From this post we learned …

1)  Typical cow’s milk baby formula increased the incidence of autoantibodies which are strongly linked to Type 1 Diabetes.  Again, Baby Formula and diabetes are linked.

2) A hypoallergenic lactose free baby food reduced the frequency of Type 1 Diabetes by 60%, compared to the control group fed cow’s milk based formula. Baby Formula and diabetes are linked.

3) Toxins (AGEs) have been found in baby formula, toxins that can increase the risk of diabetes and other diseases. And again, Baby Formula and diabetes are linked.


Given the above information, why is the medical industry pushing cow’s milk baby formula?

Why aren’t mothers hearing this information?


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12 thoughts on “Baby Formula and Diabetes”

  1. Breastfeeding is ALWAYS best, but I hope your commenters will kindly remember that there are those of us who, for a variety of reasons (adoptive parents for one example, certain medical conditions for another) could NOT breastfeed our children. In choosing a formula we did the best we could for our children with the knowledge we had at the time. Personally I’m racked with guilt over my daughter’s early puberty, which I think may be related to the BPA content in the Advent bottles I used.

    So, if you feel motivated to comment on mothers who don’t breastfeed, please remember that not all of us had a choice.

    1. re: Not all of us had a choice … You are absolutely positively correct. This post is not about guilt or judgement… it’s about helping to educate all of us… including me.

      I will add that the ‘guest poster’ did not have adequate milk for her first two pregnancies, so she too fed them formula. No one is pointing fingers at all.

      Lastly, the “guest poster” did note that, after following a ‘primal’ meal plan, she did have adequate milk for her third child. She’s not saying the Primal Meal Plan caused the milk supply to improve… just that it did. :)

  2. I did not mean to imply that you or the guest poster were criticizing people who bottle feed, it’s just that whenever I see posts like this, inevitably a commenter will come along and say something to the effect that “people who don’t breastfeed their children should be charged with child abuse”–they fail to realize it’s not an option for some of us. And such posts, whether they are meant to or not, hurt. I would have given anything to breastfeed my children, it just wasn’t possible.

    I did not mean to stop all comments! I hope other people will chime in on the guest poster’s topic which makes excellent points, just please remember to be kind about it when you emphasize the importance of breastfeeding. ;o)

    1. I did not ‘read’ your comment that way at all. And I do know the comments you are referring to re:child abuse. I’ve heard those same comments about people who take their kids to McDonalds etc.

      My only purpose is to provide information so AT LEAST we have the right information when we do make decisions.

      re: stop all comments – I’ve never had many comments… I think it’s primarily because diabetics generally want to remain ‘in the background’. I would like to see comments and discussion increase. :)

      Thanks again for yours. :)

  3. It’s been a long time since I had to feed an infant. I looked up the ingredients for Nutramigen and here is what it’s made of (copied from their website):

    Corn Syrup Solids (47%) Vegetable Oil (Palm Olein, Soy, Coconut and High Oleic Sunflower Oils) (24%), Casein Hydrolysate (17%), Modified Corn Starch (7%) and less than 2%: Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E Acetate, Vitamin K1, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, Inositol, Calcium Citrate, Calcium Hydroxide, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ferrous, Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Sodium Iodide, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Acethylated Monoglycerides, L-cystine, L-tyrosine, L-trypytophan, Taurine, L-carnitine.

    I am wondering how healthy all that corn syrup solids and seed oils really are? The Weston A Price website has a video on how to make your own formula. I have no idea how good it is, but they seem to base it on good science. It actually uses cow’s milk, but they offer an alternate liver formula if you don’t want milk. There are other homemade formula videos and recipes online – just google.

    1. Suzie, thanks for your comment. All good points and worth consideration.

      Re: Nutramigen … I know… is that not TERRIBLE!! UGH! That’s actually going to be my next post on the subject… showing the different formula ingredients. Did I say UGH!!

      Re: Homemade formula, excellent points and I’m curious if coconut or almond milk would be a good substitute for cow’s milk? .

  4. If we need formula for our children then what do we use? Also related, what about all the rice cereal?

    1. Elizabeth, Great questions thank you for asking them. I’m working on a post about formulas … honestly, there are no great choices from what I’ve seen.

      My ‘guest poster’ has researched them and she suggested Goat’s milk. Here is an article supporting goat’s milk, shared to me by Allison Herschede.

      Re: Rice Cereal : I can not say, I have not looked at those. If they have soy, corn, corn syrup, veggie oils etc…. I personally would try to find alternatives.

  5. I am looking forward to Part 2, as I’m in the process of adopting and would like to know what you recommend. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject myself, and the best I can come up with is making my own formula based on one of the WAP recipies.

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