Providing a proper diet in infancy can prevent the process leading to Type-1 diabetes among high-risk children, a study in Finland said.

Professors at the University of Helsinki analyzed around 230 newborn infants with a family member affected by type 1 diabetes by screening cord blood at birth. The study had two groups - the first team of infants who were provided hydrolyzed casein-based formula, while another group was given regular cow's milk-based formula.

Researchers found that 25 of 12% of the children developed two diabetes-predictive antoantibodies out of five tested for and 17 more tested for two or more autoantibodies in the control group.

"The study showed that the safe and simple dietary intervention applied in this pilot trial was capable of reducing the emergence of diabetes-predictive autoantibodies by about 50% by age 10 in the participants carrying increased disease risk. The current study population does not provide sufficient statistical power to definitely conclude whether an intervention of this type will reduce the frequency of clinical type 1 diabetes, although the preliminary data are promising," said Professor Mikael Knip of the Hospital for Children and Adolescents, and University of Helsinki.

The trial, which began in 2002, is being run in 77 study centers in 15 countries.

"On the other hand we have to keep in mind that this pilot trial has been performed in children with predisposing genes and a family member affected by type 1 diabetes. At this point it remains open whether this type of intervention will work in children from the general population," said Dr. Knip.