Association between Bioactive Molecules in Breast Milk and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Tajudeen Yahaya, Ufuoma Shemishere


The association between breastfeeding and type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is controversial. However, several recent studies have established a link between these two factors, necessitating a need to review this subject to raise public awareness. Current research indicates that breast milk contains a variety of bioactive substances including immunoglobulins, oligosaccharides, insulin, lactoferrin, lysozyme, cytokines, epidermal growth factors, leukocytes, nucleotides, beneficial bacteria and vitamins. Such substances strengthen the breastfeeding infant’s immune system, both directly, by increasing gut microbiota diversity and attacking harmful bacteria and proinflammatory molecules, and indirectly, by increasing thymus performance. Accordingly, a lack of or inadequate breastfeeding may predispose infants to several autoimmune disorders, including T1DM. Nursing mothers and caregivers are therefore advised to follow optimal breastfeeding practices prior to introducing complementary foods.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus; Autoimmune Diseases; Immunoglobulins; Oligosaccharides; Review Literature.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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