The researchers found that the celiac disease group had a significantly higher prevalence of additional autoimmune diseases that was not affected by exposure to gluten.
Additional Comments on this Study by Roy Jamron:
Autoimmune disease has a high prevalence in celiacs. The following study concludes that the duration of gluten exposure in celiacs is not a significant factor in the risk of developing autoimmune disease. One diagnosed late in life with celiac disease does not appear to be at greater risk for developing autoimmune disease. This seems counter-intuitive, but there may be a good explanation for this result.
Studies in the UK and Italy have demonstrated that the prevalence of celiac disease in young children is essentially the same as in adults, meaning celiac disease begins in infancy. Infancy is the critical time period for the development of the immune system. Gluten exposure and the onset of celiac disease symptoms early in life, therefore, have a much greater and more important impact on the immune system and its development than exposure to gluten later in life. Malabsorption during infancy and early childhood can also adversely affect the crucial function of the thymus, T cell production, and T cell repertoire. So the stage is set early in life rather than later for increased risk of autoimmune disease. The timing of gluten exposure in life seems to be more critical to autoimmune disease risk rather than the overall lifetime duration of gluten exposure. It is, therefore, extremely important to diagnose celiac disease and initiate a gluten-free diet as soon as possible during infancy and young childhood to lower the risk of autoimmune disease later in life.