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Breast Feeding Longer Could Prevent Celiac Disease

Am J Clin Nutr 2002;75:914-921.

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Celiac.com 06/06/2002 - Results of a recent study conducted by Anneli Ivarsson and colleagues at Umea University in Sweden suggest that continuing to breast-feed infants while they are being introduced to new foods may reduce their risk of getting celiac disease. Dr. Ivarssons study suggests that the cause of celiac disease may include environmental factors, and not just be limited to genetic factors. Their study evaluated the breast-feeding habits of 627 children with celiac disease and 1,254 healthy children, and specifically looked at their responses to newly introduced foods. The results, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that dietary patterns of infants may have a strong influence on the bodys immune responses, and certain dietary patterns could lead to lifelong food intolerances. Children under 2 years of age who were still being breast-fed when they were introduced to dietary gluten had a 40% lower incidence of celiac disease.

Another important factor was the overall amount of gluten in an infants diet, and a direct correlation was found between increased gluten consumption and an increased incidence of celiac disease. According to the researchers, the protective effect of breast feeding was even more pronounced in infants who were breast-fed beyond the introduction of gluten. Ultimately the teams findings indicate that breast feeding infants through the period of gluten introduction can significantly lower their risk of getting celiac disease. More research needs to be done to determine if this protective effect will extend over a lifetime.

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3 Responses:

 
claire cameron
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said this on
15 Sep 2008 9:50:51 PM PDT
Very practical to set up support to prolong nursing - It helped my 1st to get back onto growth chart off 3rd percentile) and all later were not to get treats from relatives.

 
andrea
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said this on
15 Jan 2009 12:13:18 PM PDT
Good to hear! it's encouraging to me and I will try to breast feed longer. Celiac runs in my husband's family.

 
BEttina
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said this on
02 Nov 2009 6:56:52 AM PDT
Thank you so much for including this information on your website, and I hope that at some point you create a tab on the left of top for "Celiac Prevention" and include these articles. Those who are planning a family, and have a family history of celiac, need to consider the protective effect of breastfeeding. More doctors need to be made aware of this research so they can encourage and support breastfeeding for their child-bearing patients, in a positive, non-judgmental manner. If more disease organizations and foundations like yours highlighted this information it would put pressure on doctors, hospitals, employers, and insurers (not moms!) to support breastfeeding fully. Thanks again for leading the way.




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Wish I could give you a hug. Unfortunately I know how that feels with Neurologists, Internists, Endocrinologists, Rheumatologists, GIs..... I got so tired of crying my drive home after refusing yet another script for Prozac. I do hope your GI can give you some answers even if it is just to rule out other possible issues. Keep on the gluten and we are here for you.

It is too bad that so often a full panel isn't done. Glad your appointment got moved up and hopefully you will get a clearer answer from the GI. Do keep eating gluten until the celiac testing is done. Once the testing is done do give the diet a good strict try. Hang in there.

That makes sense...I cried with relief when I got my diagnosis just because there was finally an answer. Please know that you are not weak or crazy. Keep pushing for testing. It could still be celiac, it could be Crohns. Push your Dr's to figure this out. Best wishes.

Thank you all very much. I actually cried when I got the answer. I wanted an explanation that I could "fix." Now I'm back to thinking I'm just weak and possibly crazy. I know I'm not crazy, but you know.

From what I have read online there is about a 1-3% chance of getting a false positive for celiac disease from a blood test. Was it a blood test that you got done? It may be worth your while to get a biopsy or more testing just to confirm it. I know being gluten free is a pain but it is better than getting cancer or other auto immune disorders.