• autoimmunity;
  • food group;
  • maternal diet;
  • potatoes;
  • T1DM

Background:  Recent studies on the etiology of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) suggest that the components of the infant diet are associated with islet autoimmunity (IA), a precursor of T1DM. The role of prenatal nutritional exposures has not been thoroughly investigated.

Methods:  The Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young has enrolled newborns from 1993 to 2004 at increased risk for T1DM based on human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotype and family history of T1DM. The child is tested for islet autoantibodies at 9 and 15 months, 2 yr, and annually thereafter. We conducted a cohort study of 642 subjects for whom a Willett food frequency questionnaire for the mother’s third trimester diet was completed. A case is defined as a subject who tests positive for islet autoantibodies at two consecutive blood draws and is still positive (or diabetic) at last follow-up (n = 27).

Maternal consumption frequencies of potatoes, other root vegetables, gluten-containing foods, non-gluten cereal grains, cow’s milk and cow’s milk products, fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, and fish were analyzed in a survival analysis.

Results:  Adjusting for breast-feeding duration, age at first cereal introduction, ethnicity, HLA genotype, family history of T1DM, and total caloric intake, higher maternal intake of potatoes (hazard ratio for one standard deviation difference: 0.49, 95% confidence interval: 0.28–0.86) was associated with a delayed time to IA onset. No other food groups ingested during pregnancy were associated with IA in the child.

Conclusions:  The composition of the maternal diet during pregnancy may play a role in the offspring’s risk of development of IA and potentially T1DM.