To help search for patterns that might explain the rise in celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to gluten) researchers followed 8,676 newborn babies who were genetically pre-disposed to celiac disease in Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the United States for 5 years. This study, which was just published in
, found that babies eating more gluten in their ﬁrst few years of life were signiﬁcantly more likely to develop celiac disease.
However, these findings contradict previous studies that found no relationship between celiac disease and gluten intake. In fact, other studies have found that delayed gluten introduction may also be linked with type 1 diabetes risk in children, and that gluten-free kids’ foods are no healthier than regular kids’ foods. Maureen M. Leonard, MD, and Alessio Fasano, MD, of MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School in Boston also questioned the signiﬁcance of the
ﬁndings, noting that “the prevalence of celiac disease in Finland is higher (1%-2.5%) than in Italy (0.7%-1.1%), yet wheat consumption in Italy is much higher than in Finland; this is also the case in Greece.”