Reducing Pediatric Risk for Celiac Disease?

A position paper released by the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) provides new guidelines that reverse prior recommendations on gluten introduction to prevent celiac disease. According to the statement, appearing in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, the risk of celiac disease in infants is not increased by the practice of introducing gluten during breastfeeding, or by the timing of the introduction of gluten into the diet, as previous guidelines stated. These recommendations, issued by ESPGHAN in 2008, stated that gluten introduction should be made between the ages of 4 and 7 months, and while the infant was still being breastfed.

Celiac disease affects between 1% and 3% of the population in most parts of the world. It is an autoimmune disorder that develops in people with genetic susceptibility in response to gluten consumption. In addition to abdominal pain, the disease can cause a wide variety of complications. Despite the prior guidelines, findings from randomized controlled trials as well as observational evidence now suggest that prevention of celiac disease through nutritional interventions is not possible at present. The authors emphasize the need for additional research on the best approaches to gluten introduction, as well as for recommendations on screening strategies for children at genetic risk for the disease.

Read more about the revised guidelines here.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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