Infectious disease at timing of gluten introduction does not appear to greatly increase a child’s future risk of celiac disease.
We have known that an individual’s likelihood of developing celiac disease is triggered by genetic and environmental factors such as the timing of gluten introduction, the length of time a child is breastfed, and a history of childhood infectious disease. And thanks to a recent Swedish study, we are now able to understand the link between these factors and their collective affect on a child’s future risk of celiac disease.
An article published February 22 online in the journal PEDIATRICS highlights the results of a population-based Swedish study, which found that infectious disease at the timing of gluten introduction does not appear to greatly increase a child’s future risk of celiac disease.
The Swedish researchers followed 9,048 children from birth, and observed 42, 826 episodes of infectious disease in the first year of life. The study identified 44 children with biopsy-confirmed celiac disease who were diagnosed after the age of 1.
In the study, researchers defined infectious disease as either an infection or gastroenteritis, a common infection among infants and young children characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, diarrhea, or the stomach flu. All infectious diseases were parent-reported. The timing of initial gluten introduction was defined as months 3 to 4, 5 to 6, and 7 to 8.
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So, what does this mean to you? Families with celiac disease who recently gave birth should not lose sleep worrying whether the poor timing of your infant’s infection overlaps with the period you began feeding your child gluten containing foods.
But do keep in mind that this Swedish study still recognizes that specific pathogens (which are defined as a bacterium, virus or fungi that causes disease) may be risk factors for celiac disease. And because the infectious diseases were parent-reported, the study was not able to specifically define such pathogens.