Public Health Promotion Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland; Faculty of Social Sciences/Health Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; Center for Child Health Research, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; The Science Center of Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere, Finland.
Professor Suvi M. Virtanen, MD, PhD, MSc (in nutrition) is one of the world-wide leading experts in childhood diet and type 1 diabetes, including the development of related dietary methodology. She is the PI of DIPP Nutrition Study and its Allergy and Obesity sub studies. She is the chair of TRIGR Nutrition Intervention Committee and member of International Executive Committee of TRIGR and EDIA. She is chairing the Diet Committee in TEDDY Study together with prof. Jill M. Norris. She is responsible for nutrition also in some other large-scale studies on the aetiology of T1D, allergic diseases and asthma. Her group has in-depth expertise in nutritional epidemiology, maternal and childhood nutrition and in developing and applying methods in longitudinal data collection and analysis as well as in food databases. As a vice chair of the Finnish Nutrition Council she participates in the nutrition policy work. Nutrition Council gives nutritional guidelines for various population groups and increasingly considers also sustainability aspects of the diet and food systems.
Several dietary factors during fetal period, lactation, infancy and childhood may play a role in the etiology of type 1 diabetes. Among foods, cow’s milk and cereal consumption have been associated with an increased risk of preclinical and/or clinical type 1 diabetes and sugars with a progression from preclinical to clinical disease. Breast milk and fish, on the other hand, may be protective. Among nutrients, long-chain n-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E, and zinc may protect from preclinical and/or clinical type 1 diabetes. The microbial composition of foods or food’s other effects on human microbiota are receiving increasing attention, also due to their putative role in the development of type 1 diabetes. Still the number of prospective studies in this research field is limited and most of the findings remain to be replicated.