Does exclusive breast-feeding reduce the risk of coeliac disease in children?

Br J Community Nurs. 2003 Mar;8(3):127-32. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2003.8.3.11098.


The aim of this review was to identify if exclusive breast-feeding reduced the risk of coeliac disease (CD) in children. Medline, Embase and CINAHL databases were searched for cohort studies and case control studies that compared exclusive breast-feeding rates with formula or mixed (breast and formula) of the same duration. Three case control studies met the review criteria and were included in the review. The results from these studies show that there is a reduced risk in the onset of CD in those children who were exclusively breast-fed compared to those who were not. However, the design of these studies did not allow a causal relationship to be established. The evidence from these studies suggests a delay in the onset of CD in breast-fed children, however it cannot be ruled out that breast-feeding continues to have a protective factor in adolescence and adulthood. The exact role of breast-feeding in CD prevention needs to be clarified: is it a protective factor against CD, or does it delay the appearance of clinical symptoms? Parents should continue to be encouraged and supported with breast-feeding, as it is the best form of infant nutrition and protective against short and long-term health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology
  • Celiac Disease / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Italy / epidemiology