October 19, 1995 -- Volume 333, Number 16
Celiac.com 10/25/1995 - According to an article published for the week of October 19, 1995 (Vol. 333, No. 16) in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is not a problem for celiacs to eat oats (non-contaminated, of course!). The article is based on a study conducted in Finland by a group of doctors who did very rigorous testing on adult celiacs and concluded that oats can, and should be included on the celiac diet (The lead doctor for the study is also a celiac).
The following is a summary of the study: 52 celiacs in remission (on a gluten-free diet for more than a year) were given duodenal-biopsies, and then fed an average of 49.9 grams of oats per day for six months. They were again given biopsies, and none of the subjects were found to have any villi damage.
There was also a group of 40 newly diagnosed celiacs who underwent the same procedures, except they were studied for 12 months rather than 6. The initial biopsies with this group showed significant villi damage due to the fact that they were still on a gluten-containing diet until they began the study. This group was fed an average of 46.6 grams of oats per day, and were given biopsies at 26 and 52 weeks. Their biopsies were almost normal at 26 weeks, which means their damaged villi were able to heal while eating oats daily. At the end of the year their biopsies showed no damage to their villi.
The study DID NOT test people who had severe cases of celiac disease, and therefore cannot make recommendations with regard to them. Also, three people with dermatitis herpetiformis withdrew from the study because of an increase of itching, but none of them showed any signs of dermatitis. One person withdrew because of abdominal symptoms, but they did not exhibit damaged villi.
Their conclusion: Our data suggest that most patients with celiac disease, whether in remission or newly diagnosed, can add moderate amounts of oats to their otherwise gluten-free diets without any harmful subjective side effects or laboratory abnormalities. Furthermore, among the newly diagnosed patients the improvement of mucosal architecture and the disappearance of mononuclear-cell infiltration were similar, regardless of the use of oats. -NEJM
There is also an editorial from England which cites positive research which has been done there regarding oats. The NEJM is the Bible of medical research, with extensive peer reviews before publication.