Early Infant Feeding Practices May Influence the Onset of Symptomatic Celiac Disease

Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2016 Dec;19(4):229-235. doi: 10.5223/pghn.2016.19.4.229. Epub 2016 Dec 28.


Purpose: To study whether breastfeeding and breastfeeding status during gluten introduction influences the age at diagnosis of celiac disease (CD). In addition to study, whether the timing of gluten introduction influences the age at diagnosis of CD.

Methods: It was a hospital based observational study. Total 198 patients diagnosed with CD as per modified European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (2012) criteria, aged between 6 months to 6 years were included. Detail history taken with special emphasis on breastfeeding and age of gluten introduction. Standard statistical methods used to analyze the data.

Results: Mean±standard deviation age of onset and diagnosis of CD in breastfed cases was 2.81±1.42 years and 3.68 ±1.55 years respectively as compared to 1.84±1.36 years and 2.70±1.65 years respectively in not breastfed cases (p<0.05). Those who had continued breastfeeding during gluten introduction and of longer duration had significantly delayed onset of disease. The age at onset of CD was under one year in 40.42% of the cases, who had started gluten before 6 months of age compared to only 12.58% of those who had started gluten later (p<0.001). The proposed statistical model showed that two variables, i.e., breast feeding status during gluten introduction and age at gluten introduction positively influencing the age at diagnosis of CD.

Conclusion: Delayed gluten introduction to infant's diet along with continuing breastfeeding, delays symptomatic CD. However, it is not clear from our study that these infant feeding practices provide permanent protection against the disease or merely delays the symptoms.

Keywords: Breast feeding; Celiac disease; Glutens; Infant feeding practices.