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Does the Gluten-Free Diet Lower a Baby's Risk of Type 1 Diabetes?
May 25, 2011
A new study published in the journal Diabetes Care reports that the gluten-free diet in the first year of life does not lower an infant’s risk of developing childhood diabetes. This proved true for babies at higher risk of the disease due to family history or genes. In addition, researchers said they found no evidence that delaying ingestion of gluten for a year increases the risk of a child developing celiac disease, as some earlier research has suggested.
In this study, German researchers followed 150 babies with at least one parent or sibling who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Half the children were given gluten for the first time at six months. The rest were not given gluten until after their first birthday.
When the children turned three years of age, three of those who’d started eating gluten at six months had developed type 1 diabetes. Four children in the delayed gluten group developed diabetes. These results indicated that delaying the introduction of gluten for a year doesn’t seem to reduce the risk of diabetes, nor does it cause harm.
Parents should consult with their pediatrician about the timing of introducing solid foods, including gluten, to their babies.
Celiac disease is linked to type 1 diabetes. Both diseases are autoimmune conditions that are inherited and genetically linked. People with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk for contracting celiac disease than the general population. Celiac disease occurs in 1 in every 10 people with type 1 diabetes, as compared with 1 in 100 cases in the general population.