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Breast Feeding Longer Could Prevent Celiac Disease

Am J Clin Nutr 2002;75:914-921.

Celiac.com 06/06/2002 - Results of a recent study conducted by Anneli Ivarsson and colleagues at Umea University in Sweden suggest that continuing to breast-feed infants while they are being introduced to new foods may reduce their risk of getting celiac disease. Dr. Ivarssons study suggests that the cause of celiac disease may include environmental factors, and not just be limited to genetic factors. Their study evaluated the breast-feeding habits of 627 children with celiac disease and 1,254 healthy children, and specifically looked at their responses to newly introduced foods. The results, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that dietary patterns of infants may have a strong influence on the bodys immune responses, and certain dietary patterns could lead to lifelong food intolerances. Children under 2 years of age who were still being breast-fed when they were introduced to dietary gluten had a 40% lower incidence of celiac disease.

Another important factor was the overall amount of gluten in an infants diet, and a direct correlation was found between increased gluten consumption and an increased incidence of celiac disease. According to the researchers, the protective effect of breast feeding was even more pronounced in infants who were breast-fed beyond the introduction of gluten. Ultimately the teams findings indicate that breast feeding infants through the period of gluten introduction can significantly lower their risk of getting celiac disease. More research needs to be done to determine if this protective effect will extend over a lifetime.

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3 Responses:

 
claire cameron
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said this on
15 Sep 2008 9:50:51 PM PST
Very practical to set up support to prolong nursing - It helped my 1st to get back onto growth chart off 3rd percentile) and all later were not to get treats from relatives.

 
andrea
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said this on
15 Jan 2009 12:13:18 PM PST
Good to hear! it's encouraging to me and I will try to breast feed longer. Celiac runs in my husband's family.

 
BEttina
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said this on
02 Nov 2009 6:56:52 AM PST
Thank you so much for including this information on your website, and I hope that at some point you create a tab on the left of top for "Celiac Prevention" and include these articles. Those who are planning a family, and have a family history of celiac, need to consider the protective effect of breastfeeding. More doctors need to be made aware of this research so they can encourage and support breastfeeding for their child-bearing patients, in a positive, non-judgmental manner. If more disease organizations and foundations like yours highlighted this information it would put pressure on doctors, hospitals, employers, and insurers (not moms!) to support breastfeeding fully. Thanks again for leading the way.




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