Infant formula ingestion is associated with the development of diabetes in the BB/Wor rat

Carol Johnston, Woodrow C. Monte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The association between early exposure to cow's milk products in infancy and risk for insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is controversial. We examined whether the ingestion of cow's milk-based infant formula altered the expression of the diabetic syndrome in the BB/Wor rat, an animal model of IDDM. Pregnant BB/Wor dams were obtained from the NIH contract colony at the University of Massachusetts and housed under semi-barrier conditions. Rat pups were intubated with 1 to 2 ml of commercially available cow's milk-based infant formula (Enfamil® or Nutramigen®) or sham intubated (controls) daily from day 12 to day 25 of life. Pups were weaned at day 25 and monitored for glucosuria daily through 120 days of life. All rats including dams consumed a milk-free rat chow and acidified water ad libitum throughout the study. The mean age of disease onset was 4 to 10 days earlier in Nutramigen®-fed and Enfamil®-fed rats relative to controls (84±3, 78±2 and 88±4 days, respectively); the mean age of disease onset was significantly different between controls and Enfamil®-fed animals (p<0.05). At 120 days, 60% (12/20) of control rats developed diabetes versus 100% of animals fed either type of infant formula prior to weaning (15/15:Enfamil®-fed; 19/19:Nutramigen®-fed) (p<0.05). These data indicate that direct, early ingestion of cow's milk- based formula was related to the expression of diabetes in the BB/Wor rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1501-1507
Number of pages7
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number16
StatePublished - Mar 10 2000


  • BB/Wor rat
  • Diabetes
  • Infant formula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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