When to wean: Too late or too early increases diabetes risk

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Researchers advise mothers on when to wean their babies to avoid health risks.

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When to wean your newborn baby

Better late?

The cliché that goes, “Better late than never” actually never really fitted many occasions. And it sure doesn’t fit weaning your babies as well. Mothers, if you think the later you wean your newborns the better it is, this group of researchers is going to prove you wrong.

Currently, Type 1 diabetes is affecting 300,000 people in the UK and the rate is increasing. Researchers cannot explain exactly why this is happening but may have found a reasonable explanation.

RELATED: Is baby-led weaning a good idea?

Increasing the risk of diabetes

The Daily Mail recently reported about a new research that advises mothers on when to wean babies, or when the right time is so that it will decrease the risk of their newborns getting Type 1 diabetes.

Apparently, introducing your baby to solid too early or too late will increase the likelihood of developing the autoimmune disease that is responsible for damaging the pancreas, and thus leading to Type 1 diabetes.

Weaning before your baby turns four months of age would lead to double the risk of Type 1 diabetes while late weaning, weaning at least six months or later would triple the risk.

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Prevent diabetes for babies susceptible to diabetes

Weaning and diabetes

Since Type 1 diabetes is an early onset disease, which typically begins during childhood, a plausible explanation could be due to the topic at large— when to wean.

Sure enough, scientists from Denver, Colorado, identified 2,000 newborns who were susceptible to Type 1 diabetes and monitored their diet, and found that there is a complex relationship between when mothers wean their babies and Type 1 diabetes. The study also showed that early exposure to fruits and late exposure to oats increased the risk in the children by 2.23 and 2.88 respectively.

However, the study only examined babies with an increased genetic risk on Type 1 diabetes. Further studies must still be done to the general population.

When to wean

Scientists also recommended a ‘safe window’ of when to wean. Between the ages of four to five months is most ideal.

Dr. Alasdair Rankin, director of research at the charity, Diabetes UK also said, “For now, parents of babies who may be at an increased genetic risk of type 1 diabetes because they have an immediate family member with the condition should continue to follow NHS guidelines, which suggest introducing solid foods by six months of age.”

RELATED: Introducing solid foods to your baby in 4 easy steps

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 diabetes mellitus has been known for its childhood onset and sufferers being dependent on insulin jabs. In this condition, the body is unable to produce insulin, a hormone responsible for allowing the body to use glucose instead of fats. Without insulin, blood sugar levels in the body will become very high (hyperglycemia).

Type 1 diabetes is the result of an autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. What the research showed was that there seemed to be a link between introducing solid food too early or too late with this autoimmune destruction.

Symptoms and Complications of Diabetes Mellitus

The general symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus include:

  1. Feeling extremely thirsty and passing a lot of urine
  2. Losing weight and exhaustion
  3. Sometimes, blurred vision
  4. Skin infections, itch on genitals

The chronic complications of Diabetes Mellitus include:

  1. Cataracts and glaucoma
  2. Weakness in blood vessel walls, which causes them to bulge and develop microaneurysms in the eye.
  3. Coronary artery disease, which is the major cause of death among diabetic patients.
  4. Kidney disease

When did you start your baby on solid foods? Tell us about it! We’d love to hear! For more information of Diabetes Mellitus, visit the Sing Health website. Learn more about Type 1 diabetes: