Celiac.com Sponsor (A1):

Celiac.com Sponsor (A1-m):

  • You've found your Celiac Tribe! Join our like-minded, private community and share your story, get encouragement and connect with others.


    • Sign In
    • Sign Up
  • Jefferson Adams

    The Ten Risk Factors Most Associated with Celiac Disease

    Jefferson Adams
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      The study found a connection between skim milk consumption, and vitamin D drop use for more than 3 months, and later development of celiac disease.

    Image: CC by 2.0--mikecohen1872
    Caption: Image: CC by 2.0--mikecohen1872

    Celiac.com 08/16/2019 - A recent study looked at nine possible factors in children that might contribute to the development of celiac disease later in life. The study found a connection between skim milk consumption, and vitamin D drop use for more than 3 months, and later development of celiac disease. It also found evidence to support earlier data that early life exposure to antibiotics and early life infection, especially ear infection, are also associated with the development of celiac disease in children.

    Read more in Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology 

    Celiac.com Sponsor (A12):

    Celiac.com Sponsor (A12-m):

    This study and several others point to the importance of the following risk factors in the development of celiac disease. Other studies have found factors that may contribute to celiac disease. 

    The Ten Risk Factors Most Associated with Celiac Disease Include:

    Genetic Factors

    Genetic factors play a role in celiac disease. Having a family member with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis increases the chances of developing celiac disease. The risk of developing celiac disease is also increased by certain variants of the HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 genes. These genes provide instructions for making proteins that play a critical role in the immune system. A recent study shows high celiac disease rates among first-degree family relatives.

    Associated Diseases

    Having associated autoimmune or other diseases increases the likelihood of developing celiac disease. Associated diseases include:

    • Autoimmune thyroid disease
    • Dermatitis herpetiformis
    • Lupus erythematosus
    • Microscopic colitis (lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Type 1 diabetes
    • Down syndrome or Turner syndrome
    • Addison's disease

    Being Female

    Being female is a risk factor for celiac disease? It's true. Women get celiac disease at rates up to twice as high as men. The exact reasons for this are unknown, but many researchers are focused on the role of female immune response, and how it differs from that of men.


    Courses of antibiotics before 2 years old are associated with higher celiac disease rates. 

    Ear Infection

    Incidence of ear infection before 2 years old are associated with higher celiac disease rates. The ORs for the raw categorical variables on ear infection increase with the number of such infections. In addition, the scaled ear infection exposure variable is associated with a subsequent diagnosis of celiac disease. Other studies have also shown a connection between ear infections and later celiac disease.

    Viral Infection

    Several studies have shown that exposure to certain viruses is associated with higher rates of celiac disease later on. 
    Implicated viruses include enterovirus and reovirus.

    Vitamin D Drop Exposure in Infancy

    Some recent evidence points to the role of oral vitamin D exposure in later celiac development. While the OR on only one of the vitamin D drop categorical variables is statistically significant (Table 2), these variables do suggest a pattern. Specifically, the data suggests that infants who receive oral vitamin D drops for longer than 3 months are at increased risk of subsequently developing celiac disease. 

    Skim Milk

    Recent data suggests that consumption of skim milk as the primary form of liquid cow’s milk between 2-3 years old is associated with a subsequent diagnosis of celiac disease. In general, kids who drank skim or low-fat milk had more celiac disease, and more diarrhea. 

    Age at First Gluten Consumption

    A 2015 study by Carin Andren Aronsson, from the department of clinical sciences at Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues, shows that children who eat more foods with gluten before they're 2 years old have a greater risk of developing celiac disease if they carry a genetic risk factor for the condition. It's important to note, however, that while the study found an association between eating more gluten early in life and celiac disease, it wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

    Amount of Gluten Consumed

    The results of a recent study showed that every daily gram increase in gluten intake in 1-year olds increases the risk of developing celiac disease autoimmunity by 5%. 

    Edited by Jefferson Adams


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    2 hours ago, Elisabeth Gerritsen said:

    A pity my mom didn't know when I was young! Had skim milk very young,  many ear infections, lack of calcium, lack of B12, had much bread to eat because of poverty and so on. No wonder I've got Celiac now!

    I also have  celiac,  I would never ever insinuate my mother is to blame,



    Share this comment

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    2 hours ago, Guest Shep said:

    I also have  celiac,  I would never ever insinuate my mother is to blame,



    She’s not shes blaming the lack of knowledge. Don’t shame her. 

    Share this comment

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    2 hours ago, Guest Shep said:

    I also have  celiac,  I would never ever insinuate my mother is to blame,



    I didn't say my mother is to blame! I only said: a pity she didn't know! I am 76 years old and my mom was from 1906! In those times nobody ever heard of celiac.

    Share this comment

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I find it thought provoking that eating gluten (code name wheat) is last on the list possible risk factors for Celiac Disease.

    This highlights the failure of the government effort to make us believe that fat is the culprit for obesity by pointing out that fat free milk and vitamin D drops are causal to Celiac Disease. What is the risk when drinking 4% vitamin D milk and why is the comparison never mentioned? How about investigating the pregnant mother's wheat (gluten if you prefer) consumption and type 1 Diabetes in the offspring?

    Share this comment

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The associations of at least some of these are most likely not the cause of celiac, but are in CONJUNCTION with celiac. Poor absorption of nutrients, low iGa antibodies causing frequent respiratory infections and therefore increased use of antibiotics, etc. One wonders how these studies were done, or if the author of the article has drawn incorrect conclusions. 

    Share this comment

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Join the conversation

    You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • 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.

  • Celiac.com Sponsor (A17):
    Celiac.com Sponsor (A17):

    Celiac.com Sponsors (A17-m):

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 02/08/2007 - While celiac disease can affect anyone, it is more rare in Africans and Asians, and occurs most frequently in whites of Northern European ancestry, and in people with autoimmune disorders, such as:
    Autoimmune thyroid disease Lupus erythematosus Microscopic colitis Rheumatoid arthritis Type 1 diabetes Also, celiac disease and the tendency to get celiac disease runs in families. If one member of a family has celiac disease, the odds are that about one in ten of their first-degree relatives will also have it. People may harbor this tendency for years or even decades without showing signs or getting sick. Then, some...

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 03/14/2016 - Compared with the general population, people with celiac disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (CAD), and 1.4 times as likely to suffer a stroke, according to a large retrospective study presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions.
    The data indicate that people with celiac disease might be at higher risk of CAD, even if they do not have standard cardiovascular risk factors, said co-investigator Dr Rama Dilip Gajulapalli of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
    His team is calling on primary-care physicians, gastroenterologists, and other healthcare practitioners to be "mindful...

    Alexander R. Shikhman, MD, PhD, FACR
    Celiac.com 05/04/2018 - It has been recognized for several decades that both children and adults with celiac disease have a significantly increased frequency of osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures as compared to the age-matched non-celiac healthy individuals. Based on published data the prevalence of osteoporosis among celiac patients varies from as low as 4% to as high as 70%. The data from our clinic indicate that prevalence of osteoporosis among adults with gluten intolerance and celiac disease is in the vicinity of 30-40%.
    Characteristics and causes of osteoporosis 
    Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by the reduced bone ...

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 03/26/2019 - People with gluten intolerance often have non-gastrointestinal symptoms, including several common skin conditions. If you have celiac disease or other sensitivity to gluten, a gluten-free diet may help to improve symptoms of these associated skin conditions. 
    These Seven Common Skin Conditions are Associated with Celiac Disease
    Links between celiac and malabsorption, as well as hormonal upset can contribute to a greater production of acne.  Many birth control pills boast promises of clearer skin, their method is through hormone manipulation.  Because many who suffer from gluten intolerance also experienc...

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 09/02/2019 - A team of researchers recently set out to investigate rates of first-degree relatives (FDRs) with celiac disease detected at screening, and the diagnostic significance of anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-TTG).
    The research team included Shilpa S. Nellikkal, MBBS, Yamen Hafed, MD, Joseph J. Larson, BS, Joseph A. Murray, MD, and Imad Absah, MD. They are variously affiliated with the the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; and the Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo ...