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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    What's the Best Time to Introduce Children to Gluten?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--barekim

    Celiac.com 11/22/2013 - Timing of gluten introduction has been associated with the risk of celiac disease in children, but the best time window for gluten introduction had remained unknown.

    Photo: CC--barekimIn order to determine the optimal time window for gluten introduction in children, a team of researchers recently set out to assess the effect of age at first gluten consumption on the risk of celiac disease, and to adjust their data for continued breastfeeding.

    The research team included Ketil Størdal, MD, PhD, Richard A. White, PhD, and Merete Eggesbø, MD, PhD. They are variously affiliated with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; and Østfold Hospital Trust in Fredrikstad, Norway.

    For their study, the team used the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, a prospective birth cohort including 107 000 children, questionnaires to identify celiac disease, and linkage to the Norwegian Patient Register.

    They recorded results of reported gluten introduction monthly from 0 to 6 months of age, and breastfeeding from 0 to 18 months.

    After exclusion of cases with insufficient information, they found 324 children with celiac disease from a group of 82,167 useful for their analyses.

    Gluten was introduced before or at 4 months in 8.0%, 5 to 6 months in 45.3%, and after 6 months in 46.6%, whereas continued breastfeeding was stable at ∼78% at 6 months age.

    They found celiac disease in 3.68 per 1000 infants with gluten introduction at 5 to 6 months compared with 4.15 per 1000 with late and 4.24 per 1000 with early gluten introduction.

    After adjustment for the child’s age and gender, breastfeeding, and maternal celiac disease, delayed gluten introduction was associated with an increased risk of celiac disease (adjusted odds ratio, 1.27 [95% confidence interval, 1.01–1.65], P = .045).

    Breastfeeding >12 months was also associated with increased risk (adjusted odds ratio, 1.49 [95% confidence interval, 1.01–2.21], P = .046).

    Overall, the team found an increased risk of celiac disease in children introduced to gluten after 6 months, and a higher risk in children breastfed beyond 12 months of age.


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    I am a mother of two. I breastfed my daughter for 24 months. I gave her no grains for almost the first 6 months but did give her rice cereal at 8 weeks. I was on a low carb diet at the time and did not give her much carbs in the form of grains maybe oatmeal. She was diagnosed celiac at 10 years old! This research is saying the later you introduce gluten the higher the risk is!

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    After having listened to an entire week of speakers at the Gluten Summit this month, I'm beginning to think that we shouldn't be eating any grains at all, or very, very little. A vast majority of Americans suffer from Candida/yeast in their body to one extent or another. I am one of those people. Mine is systemic, and I've had yeast for 30 years. I've tried every trick that I know of to eradicate it, including going on a gluten free diet five years ago (I'm gluten intolerant) as well as soy and cow dairy free as well as pretty much kicking most of the sugar out of the house (didn't go cold turkey, though. Drat). Nothing worked. I am currently doing an intensive elimination diet--NO GRAINS, NO SUGAR. It s*cks. Basically, it's the Paleo diet. I didn't want to have to get to this point of severe deprivation, but my daughter now has many, many signs of having systemic Candida at the age of 13. It's time to finally--and hopefully completely--nip this invader in the bud. Candida/yeast feed off sugar, and grains become sugar for the body when they break down. Add in the ungodly amount of sugar we American intake every year (about 154 lbs/person/year--and if you don't ingest that much yourself, then someone else is eating/drinking your portion for you), and you have a very ripe atmosphere for the little critters to grow and give you lots and lots of health problems. I know. I am one of them. So is my daughter. Getting back to au naturel as much as possible is what is needed to have good health. Humans have been around for many, many hundreds of thousands of years and have done just fine with the food they foraged; grains have only been harvested and eaten during the last 10,000 years. Within the last 50 years, wheat has been changed so much that it's nothing like the grains our ancestors ate. And other grains have protective mechanisms in them to help the grains/grasses keep themselves safe from predators; we eat them, and then ingest these toxins they produce. Those toxins build up over time. And sugar ::shudder:: look up Dr. Lustig on YouTube and watch his lectures as to what sugar really does to your body. It's not pretty.

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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 2,000 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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