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Early Gluten Introduction in Susceptible Infants Increases Celiac Risk
Celiac.com 12/14/2015 - Recently, several studies have set out to determine how intake of gluten during infancy influences later risk of celiac disease.
One such study, conducted in Sweden, investigated whether gluten intake before 2 years of age increases the risk for celiac disease in genetically susceptible children. The research team included Carin Andrén Aronsson, Hye-Seung Lee, Sibylle Koletzko, Ulla Uusitalo, Jimin Yang, Suvi M. Virtanen, Edwin Liu, Åke Lernmark, Jill M. Norris, and Daniel Agardh.
They are variously affiliated with the Digestive Health Institute, Children's Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado, the Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Campus, University of Colorado Denver in Aurora, Colorado, the Department of Clinical Sciences at Lund University and Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden, with Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Nutrition Unit in Helsinki, Finland, the School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland, the Research Center for Child Health, Tampere University and University Hospital, Science Center of Pirkanmaa Hospital District, University of Tampere, Finland, and with the Health Informatics Institute, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
The research team conducted a case-control study of 436 pairs of children, generated from a Swedish database of 2525 children with genetic susceptibility to celiac disease, matched for sex, birth year, and HLA genotype from September 2004 to February 2010.
The children were screened each year for celiac disease using an assay for tissue transglutaminase autoantibodies (tTGAs). To confirm celiac disease, the team conducted intestinal biopsy on children who tested positive for tTGA. The team also calculated gluten intake from 3-day food records collected when the children were 9, 12, 18, and 24 months old.
The results showed that the duration of breastfeeding, lasting 32 weeks, on average, and average age at first introduction to gluten of 22 weeks was basically the same for the target group and the tTGA-negative control group.
At the visit prior to tTGA seroconversion, the target group reported a larger intake of gluten, 4.9 grams a day, compared to 3.9 grams a day for controls (odds ratio [OR], 1.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13–1.46; P = .0002).
More of the target group consumed amounts of gluten in the upper third tertile (ie, >5.0 g/d) before they tested positive for tTGA seroconversion compared to control subehects (OR, 2.65; 95% CI, 1.70–4.13; P < .0001).
Interestingly, this increased risk was similar for children homozygous for DR3-DQ2 (OR, 3.19; 95% CI, 1.61–6.30; P = .001), heterozygous for DR3-DQ2 (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.08≥4.62; P = .030), and for children not carrying DR3-DQ2 (OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 0.90–6.54; P = .079).
These findings may be taken into account for future infant feeding recommendations. So, basically, if kids have a genetic susceptibility to celiac disease, regardless of their genetic haplotypes, then parents should wait until after 2 yearss of age to introduce gluten into the child's diet.
This study, taken together with another recent study that shows that introduction of gluten after six months of age might promote an increased risk of celiac disease, might help provide some guidance for parents looking to introduce gluten to their children's diets.
The earlier study, the children did not have a genetic predisposition to celiac disease.
That means that, according to research, the best window for optimal gluten introduction is after two years, especially for children with genetic predisposition, and before six months, regardless of genetic status.
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams