Research appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2007; 298(12): 1420-8) shows that omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in high-risk children. The definition of “at-risk” was defined as having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes, or having a high diabetes risk HLA genotype. One longitudinal, observational study involving 1,770 high-risk children and another case-cohort study involving 244 high-risk children looked at omega-3 fatty acid consumption and the development of islet autoimmunity; it found an inverse relationship between the two. Similarly, there was an inverse relationship between the omega-3 content of red blood cell membranes and the development of islet autoimmunity. Islet autoimmunity risk was defined as being positive for insulin, glutamic acid decarboxylase, or insulinoma-associated antigen-2 autoantibodies on two consecutive visits and still autoantibody positive or having diabetes at last follow-up visit. The authors of the study concluded that omega-3 fatty acid consumption reduced the risk for the development of type 1 diabetes in those at risk.
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