MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Maria Ines Pinto Sanchez, MD MSc
Post-doctoral Clinical Research Fellow and
Dr Elena Verdu, MD, PhD
Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute
Health Sciences Centre Hamilton, ON
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Celiac disease is a condition caused by ingestion of gluten in people with genetic predisposition, in which the finger like projections of the intestinal lining are damaged by inflammation. The “celiac” genes are necessary, but not sufficient, to develop celiac disease. For this reason, it is believed that additional factors could influence the risk of a predisposed child to develop celiac disease. Some studies have indeed suggested that the ideal time for the introduction of gluten to the diet would fall between the 4th and 6th month of life, when gluten should be introduced in “small quantities” and progressively, while maintaining breastfeeding whenever possible. The Nutrition Committee of the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition recommended avoiding the introduction of gluten before 4 months and after 7 months of age in an attempt to prevent celiac disease. However, not all clinical studies reached this conclusion and we therefore conducted an updated analysis of the literature published on this subject to evaluate the relationship between time and amount of gluten introduction, breastfeeding and the risk of developing celiac disease. Our systematic analysis revealed that based on the studies published to date there is no strong support that early gluten introduction to an infant’s diet increases the chances to develop celiac disease or that breastfeeding specifically protects from it.