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No Pancakes for Pancake.

Before BSparl was born, I spent a lot of time focusing on the pregnancy.  (You guys know this - my blog was littered with "I can't get my A1C low enough!" posts before she was conceived, and then the "OMG I need to protect this growing peanut" posts while she was inside.)  I was so focused on the Get Pregnant/Have Baby process that I sort of forgot to look into the Once She's Out adventure. 

Chris and I learned how to be good (we hope) parents as we went, gaining knowledge from books, websites, our doctors, and that thing called trial-by-fire.  (Something about changing the diaper of a wiggly three week old in the dead of night helps your brain learn the process real quick.) Like any other new parent, we worried about just about everything.  But there was one unique thing that we were concerned about, and it was BSparl's chance of developing type 1 diabetes.

I've written before about The Thought and how we do our best to keep it from ruling our life.  Honestly, we don't give it much of our attention at all - we know the warning signs of diabetes, and if they ever present themselves, we'll pick up on them immediately.  But I can't go dipping a ketone stick into her soggy diaper every day because I will make myself absolutely insane.  

There are a few things I can do to help "prevent" type 1 diabetes.  And I use "prevent" in quotes because the genetics are what they are, and I don't think I can do much about them.  But there's this weird, antenatal checklist that I felt the need to follow, in effort to keep any diagnosis at bay as long as possible. 

Topping that list?  Breastfeeding.  As I've mentioned over and over again, breastfeeding your child is NOT what makes you a good mom.  It's jut an option for feeding, and one that I chose.  But part of the reason I chose to breastfeed was because of the research that pointed towards breastfed babies having a lower incidence of type 1 diabetes.

Pacifiers are out the window now that the kid has discovered how delicious her thumb is."But Kerri, you were breastfed!  And you were the only one who was breastfed in your family.  What gives?"  I know, right?  (See also:  crapshoot)  But one thing I came across in my research on raising BSparl was the importance of vitamin D in relation to type 1 diabetes.  Breastmllk doesn't contain much vitamin D (if any), and my pediatrician and I decided that adding vitamin D supplements to BSparl's bottles was a good idea.  So at the two month mark, I began supplementing the kiddo with Tri-Vi-Sol drops.  

And the third poke on this trident of attempted prevention is the decision to go gluten-free for the baby.  Research on type 1 diabetes in children pointed to some studies about how a gluten-free diet may help prevent a diagnosis in NOD mice (oh those frigging mice - always gettin' cured).  Will it hurt my child to avoid gluten for the first year of her life?  Not even a little bit.  So BSparl will enjoy rice cereal and vegetables and fruits and protein, but the Pancake won't have any pancakes until she's a year old. 

One thing we didn't decide to do was the soy protein route.  Research on the cow's milk protein and the soy protein gave me all kinds of reasons to go with, and to avoid, both kinds of formula.  I was completely torn.  (But Bsparl wasn't - she hated the soy formula and puked it up regularly.)  After talking with my team at Joslin and then my pediatrician, it seemed that using whatever formula worked best for the baby was what I should go with.  So once we were done breastfeeding, we used Earth's Best Organic formula with DHA and Iron.  Going organic for BSparl was something we wanted to do not just because of the diabetes component, but because of all the crap that's in "regular" food.

Could it all be weird science and old wives tales?  (Not that the NIH tells old wives tales.  They tell old lab coat tales.)  Perhaps.  I could be working hard to ward off a diagnosis that isn't coming, or pointlessly trying to avoid one that is.  But these are the parenting decisions Chris and I made as a team, and it's not a recommended course of action for other parents who have a history of type 1 diabetes in their family.  It's just what we decided to do.  To each set of parents their own.  We do our best, and that helps me fall asleep at night. 

That, and sheer exhaustion.  :)

Comments

I did all those things too... Breastfed for a year, gave my DD vitamin D drops, and kept her on a gluten-free diet until she was about 16 months. So far, so good... according to the letter we got from TrialNet a couple of weeks ago, she does not have any "autoantibodies" in her blood. Hopefully it remains that way! BTW, you can buy gluten-free pancakes with rice flour at Trader Joe's. My DD likes those! :)

"I can't go dipping a ketone stick into her soggy diaper every day because I will make myself absolutely insane."

That is so the point too - Not feeding the fear that want us to make ourselves insane.

Diabetes plays head games. The fear sure is one of them. I applaud everyone who manages to take each step away from driving themselves insane.

Tangentially my two cents on the fear is at: http://www.ydmv.net/2008/05/i-know-one-of-your-fears.html

Kerri, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you writing about these things. No Pancakes for me yet, but you better believe that your posts on pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and life with D and baby have become so important to me. And will continue to be so when the time comes for a Pancake of my own.

Just like diabetes, parenting is so personal and what works for one baby does not always work for another.

Just another guessing game but it is so much more worth it!

There is NOTHING like being a parent. IMHO

I've been doing the same as you. Now that my twins are 15 months old they do get gluten but I'm about to cut that back out of their diet because the issue keeps coming up in stuff I read. It's kind of hard explaining to people why they can't eat such normal stuff but, we just do what we all personally can...good luck to us all

Hi Kerri,

No need to avoid pancakes. I have a few fantastic gf pancake recipes. If you want any gluten-free food ideas, please send me a note. I have celiac and I love to cook/bake/make a mess of my kitchen!

Cheers,
Laura

Wow. You just gave me a lot to think about. My husband has Type 1. I've thought about the effects on our future children, but I've never been able to nail down an answer to what role genetics play in Type 1 diabetes. I think I have some reading to do. If any of you out there know of any good information, please feel free to pass it on!

Thanks for sharing this Kerri. A baby is somewhere in my future. With type 1 diabetes in both my family and my husband's, I think about this a lot.

The good thing is that gluten free food is everywhere now. The best GF bread is Udi's bread, and I like most of the GF pancakes I've tried. Even some GF hot cereals made of quinoa (sooo yummy), etc. are really good. Keep up the good work Kerri!

Kudos to you for doing all of this and being so proactive! You're right, it may not make any bit of difference, but it's certainly worth a try (and from what I read it all sounds completely logical, especially given the growing connection between type 1 diabetes and Celiacs disease). At the very least, you will end up with a child that has a penchant for healthier foods. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that!

BSparl is so lucky to have such concerned and wonderful parents!

Another thing to consider is regularly testing BSparl's bloodsugar to look for any indication that she might be becoming diabetic. The reasoning is that some newer research has found various therapies (IG therapy, oral medications) that seem to hold off the development of Type 1 diabetes in children. I was reading about this somewhere and also came across a story on a local news channel about this. Don't know all the specifics, but it is something looking into. Basically, in children who are diagnosed really early (because they were found to have the antibodies after a sibling developed diabetes or were just diagnosed really early), they were able to avoid insulin completely or able to stay on a much lower dose of insulin. To be clear, these were children who were on the way to becoming type 1 diabetics (i.e., they had antibodies present). From what I understood, the therapies offered a way to 'assist' their pancreases and prevent the development of full-blown diabetes. I may have some/all of these facts wrong, but it is worth looking into. All very new research, but it is being applied.

Sometimes no matter what you do, there you are! *IF* she winds up diabetic (Type 1 or 2), at least you can say you've done your best.

Now if I could get people to believe that for Type 2 - we're not all lazy over-eaters. LOL

Off topic, but did you ever see the movie 'Cabin Fever'? It's terrible (as is most stuff from Eli Roth), but there's a scene near the end where a little kid is yelling PANCAKES!!!

That was the first thought I had when I saw the title of this post. Sorry for distracting everyone.

I remember wheeling out of post partum holding my second baby....kind of afraid of what may lie ahead as the mom of 2 little ones, 1 of whom had been dx about 6 months before.

Anyway, while waiting for the elevator, there was this BIG poster of a baby nursing that read "BREASTFEEDING REDUCES DIABETES"

And there I was. I had nursed my baby for 2 years and she was dx 3 weeks after weaning....now I was holding my second breastfeeding babe and waiting for the elevator.

Sigh.

I've never heard the vitamin D thing, or the gluten free. Hopefully baby #2 is in our future at some point, so that will bee good info to know. Thanks for an informative post!

Brestfeed exclusively until 12 months old, Poly ViSol as well, DX at 14 months old,,, Crap shoot is right

Kerri, I've read that there is more of a genetic disposition for type II diabetes, do you think this is plausible?

I did extended breastfeeding, give my little ones Vit D drops and probiotics (since good health starts with a good gut!) and fish oils. I agree there are no guarantees.... but I am one of those classic cases of autoimmune issues. Wasn't breastfed, had dairy allergies, chronic ear infections.... years later diagnosed with Type 1 and now can't eat gluten either. I think there is a huge connection to food allergens, so we avoid dairy as much as possible in our house, and limit gluten. Thanks for a great post!

awesome, awesome choices! if only i knew then what i know now. vit d supplemented w/ breast feedings and gluten - another one was introducing food earlier than i did. and btw, forget the ketone stix in the diapers, it never, ever works well. continued greatness :)

Great post Kerri, and good to know this info when I start having children. Do you know what percentage of children get Type 1 if one of the parents has it?

Not to start any drama or anything (seriously no fighting!!).. but have you looked into the link between vaccines and type 1 diabetes? Perhaps some should be avoided. I forget now which have been linked but we just aren't vax'ing our daughter at all.. but luckily we live in a country where there's not a huge pressure to vax like in America.

I am so glad that I stumbled upon your blog. It feels like I could have written it (but not anywhere near as eloquently)! My son is 4 months and we are doing all of the things you mentioned. We are going to wait to start solids until he can have fruits and veggies and start off with those.

My son's father is Type 1.
When my son was born, I worried that my son would develop Type 1, but I had NO IDEA what I could do to help "prevent" or postpone the development of the Type 1 rearing it's awful head. I knew it was a huge possibility that my son was carrying the gene. Well, at age 3 yrs & 3 wks old, I diagnosed my son with full-fledged Type 1 diabetes. My husband developed his diabetes at age 24, after having the flu. My son's active diabetes came out 2 months after we gave him a flu shot. I have learned from talking to many parents, as well as my own gut over the past 5 yrs that it really seems to be a virus or shot that seems to make this disease "come alive" for those who carry the gene. I fully believe it was the flu shot we gave my son. If I had to do it all over again, I would delay ALL shots & immunizations as all as possible. Obviously, they are going to get a virus or illness, and we can hope it's not "the one" that shuts down the pancreas.

Thank you Kerri for writing this post. Is there anyway, when you get time of course(ha) to write a post to all the current mommies, mommies to be and so forth regarding where you found your information from websites, books to note or any sources that we could use. I think it's great all the hard work you and Chris are doing to make sure you're trying your hardest to keep BSparl T1 free. Also, have you been gluten free the whole time pregnant/breastfeeding as well? Thanks Kerri!

Anyone know of any links to studies that point towards the gluten association with Type 1? My son is almost 6 months old and my husband keeps accusing me of being a hippie for wanting to keep my son gluten-free!! I am dying to find concrete evidence I can leave on the refridgerator!!

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