Celiac.com 11/23/2015 - A new study looks at the impacts of introducing gluten to infants and the development of celiac disease. A research team recently set out to assess the evidence regarding the effect of time of gluten introduction and breastfeeding on the risk of developing celiac disease.

Photo: CC--Sander Van der WelThe research team included MI Pinto-Sánchez, EF Verdu, E Liu, P Bercik, PH Green, JA Murray, S Guandalini, and P Moayyedi. Their team conducted a comprehensive review of studies from the following electronic databases: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); MEDLINE (Ovid); EMBASE (Ovid); and System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe (SIGLE). Two independent authors collected the data.

Their analysis included randomized controlled trials and observational studies that assessed proper timing for introducing gluten to the infant diet, appropriate quantity of gluten consumption at weaning, and the effect of breastfeeding on celiac disease risk.

Out of a total of 1982 studies they identified, 15 matched their criteria for data extraction. The team performed a meta-analysis on 2 randomized controlled trials, 10 cohort studies, and 1 case-control study. That analysis showed a 25% increase in celiac disease risk with gluten-introduction after 6 months, compared to the recommended 4 to 6 months (risk ratio [RR], 1.25; 95% CI, 1.08-1.45).

There was no difference between breastfeeding vs no breastfeeding on celiac disease risk (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.28-1.10), with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 92%) among studies. There is currently no evidence to support that early introduction of gluten to the infant diet increases the risk of celiac disease.

However, introduction of gluten after six months of age might promote an increased risk of celiac disease.

More studies are needed that control for potential confounders and that evaluate environmental factors in low-risk families.

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