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  • Jefferson Adams

    Pregnancy Complications More Common in Women with Celiac Disease

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 04/27/2015 - We know that women with infertility have higher rates of celiac disease than women who are not infertile.

    Photo: CC--Christy SpencerThere's been some evidence to suggest that celiac disease might have impact women's reproductive health. However, the quest for more solid answers continues.



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    A team of researchers recently set out to assess fertility and outcomes of pregnancy among women with celiac disease. The research team included Stephanie M. Moleski, Christina C. Lindenmeyer, J. Jon Veloski, Robin S. Miller, Cynthia L. Miller, David Kastenberg, and Anthony J. DiMarino. The team crafted a retrospective cohort study in which they analyzed information gathered from patients at a tertiary care celiac center, along with information gathered from members of two national celiac disease awareness organizations.

    A group of women without celiac disease served as control subjects. Both groups answered an anonymous online survey of 43 questions about menstrual history, fertility, and pregnancy outcomes. The group included 329 women with small bowel biopsy-confirmed celiac disease and 641 control subjects. Of the 970 women included in the study, 733 (75.6%) reported that they had been pregnant at some point.

    In terms of pregnancy, there was no significant difference between women with celiac disease (n=245/329, 74.5%) and controls (488/641, 76.1%; P=0.57). However, fewer women with celiac disease than controls (79.6% vs. 84.8%) reported giving birth following 1 or more pregnancies (P=0.03).

    Women with celiac disease had higher rates of spontaneous abortion than did control subjects (50.6% vs. 40.6%; P=0.01). Women with celiac disease also had higher rates of premature delivery, at 23.6% compared to 15.9% among controls (P=0.02).

    The average age at menarche was a bit higher in the celiac disease group, at 12.7 years, than in the control group, which came in at 12.4 years (P=0.01).

    This retrospective cohort analysis examining reproductive features of women with celiac disease, found that celiac disease was associated with significant increases in spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, and later age of menarche.

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    It's not clear whether the women with celiac had been following a gluten-free diet. In other words, were they "healthy" before becoming pregnant, or suffering from symptoms of untreated celiac disease?

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    Guest Jefferson Adams

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    I agree it would be helpful to know more about the gluten-free status of these women, and whether that has any impact on outcomes. I imagine women with celiac disease who follow a gluten-free diet would have similar rates of normal pregnancy as the non-celiac controls, but that's just a guess.

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    I would like someone to do research on Preeclampsia and toximia, I don't know if I have celiac disease but I am sensitive to gluten. I am also dairy, soy, corn and some other foods I am allergic to. When I had my children I did not know that I was sensitive or allergic, I was just sick my whole life and got preeclampsia. I wonder if foods cause this?

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    There's room for investigating if the dreaded nine-months morning sickness could also be attributed to coeliac disease, treated or otherwise. I was subsequently diagnosed with celiac disease, so was my sister and daughter who like me also suffered from the appalling long term morning sickness; we would have been in good company with the Duchess of Cambridge, but it would've been no consolation at the time.

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    I had symptoms of celiac ever since I was 9 but didn't know what it was until I was 68. I had toxemia when I was 7 months pregnant and lost that baby. The baby weighed 2 pounds. The second baby was also stillborn, they thought I could deliver it the normal way, but I couldn't, they had to do a C-section, he was 3 pounds when I was 7 months. The 3rd baby was 4 pounds at 8 months, and lived. I think all my babies were small because they weren't getting enough nourishment because of being celiac.

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    I was diagnosed with Celiac at age 62. I didn't know what it was, but from the time I had my first period at age 11.5, I ate like a line backer. I am 75 years old, 5'1" & weigh 117#. I ate more than my older sister who could look at food & gain weight. As a teen, I  would pack a large lunch & buy a hot lunch including 2 cartons of milk. I never gained an ounce.  I wore a size 3. At. 23 I had my 1st child two days before my due date & she weighed 8# 2.5 oz. I had very mild nausea  & it was gone by week 12.  I had a miscarriage 2 years later.  I got pregnant again & had a baby girl five days before my due date with a little  help from my doctor who thought I was gaining too much weight (40#). The baby weighed 8# 5oz.  At my 6 week checkup I weighed 105 & they said don't lose any more weight. I went back to my pre pregnancy weight of 97#.  I never tried to lose weight.  I also never tried to get pregnant. I had always tried not to get pregnant.   I wasn't nauseous. I had natural childbirth in 6 hours & 2 hours labor. I never fit the norm in anything.  People said I had a fast metabolism, because I could eat anything & never gain weight. 
    I think I had Celiac since I was 11.  I never had any symptoms. At age 62, I was being treated for fibromyalgia & kept getting worse. My rheumatologist tested me for Celiac, Lupus & R/A. My celiac numbers were over 100. Thirteen years later my numbers are <2, but being gluten free, my digestive system isn't normal. All those years of consuming gluten must have damaged my gut. I also have Hashimotos and am otherwise in good health. No fibromyalgia & I still don't fit the norm. 

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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