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Too much gluten in young children could increase risk of celiac disease


High gluten intake early in life was associated with an increased risk of celiac disease in a new study by a team of researchers in northern Europe.

We found that a one-year-old child in the highest range of gluten intake has twice the risk of developing autoimmunity of celiac disease, a stage that often preludes to full-blown celiac disease; †research coordinator Karl Marild of theNorwegian Institute of Public Health and Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden-. It was surprising to me to find such a strong association, given the ubiquitous nature of gluten in our diet.”

Marild and colleagues used data on 1,875 children provided by another study (Daisy – Diabetes AutoImmunity Study in the Young) that aimed instead to investigate susceptibility to type 1 diabetes mellitus. Among the plus points was the very long follow-up: participants were followed from 1993 until January 2017. The children were divided into three groups according to their dietary gluten intake during the period when they were one year to two years old. The researchers then compared the data of the now-adult participants in the higher gluten intake bracket with those in the lower bracket, showing for the former a 96 percent higher risk of celiac disease and 117 percent higher risk of celiac disease autoimmunity: in other words, a doubling of risk. “If our results are confirmed ,” said Marild. may provide a somewhat better understanding of a significant aspect of the likely multifactorial etiology of this disease. Importantly, we do not recommend a change in pediatric feeding practices, because ours was an observational study and unable to show a cause-and-effect relationship.” It is also necessary to specify that the consumption of gluten-rich foods in non-celiac adults has never been associated with any adverse effects. Gluten-free diets, much in vogue in the United States, challenging, unnecessary and expensive, may carry risks, and their health effect is among the many unproven but widespread “hoaxes” in nutrition.

Mårild K, Dong F et al. Gluten Intake and Risk of Celiac Disease: Long-Term Follow-up of an At-Risk Birth Cohort. Am J Gastroenterol. 2019 May 9.


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