1. Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus develops within a group of individuals who carry specific diabetes susceptibility traits. Because all of the potential diabetes "susceptibility genes" are not known, currently it is not possible to identify all individuals at risk. It appears, however, that a small percentage of such individuals will ever develop clinical diabetes mellitus.
2. The autoimmune destructive process may be triggered by a number of environmental events.
3. Early exposure of infants to cow's milk protein may be an important factor in the initiation of the β cell destructive process in some individuals. It is not known whether the cow's milk protein in commercially available infant formulas is associated with this process.
4. The avoidance of cow's milk protein for the first several months of life may reduce the later development of IDDM or delay its onset in susceptible individuals.
5. Research directed toward further defining the possible relationship between infant feeding practices and the development of IDDM is needed.