Association of Cereal, Gluten, and Dietary Fiber Intake With Islet Autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes

JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Aug 12;173(10):953-960. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2564. Online ahead of print.


Importance: Dietary proteins, such as gluten, have been suggested as triggers of the disease process in type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Objective: To study the associations of cereal, gluten, and dietary fiber intake with the development of islet autoimmunity (IA) and T1D.

Design, setting, and participants: The prospective birth cohort Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention Study recruited children with genetic susceptibility to type 1 diabetes from September 1996 to September 2004 from 2 university hospitals in Finland and followed up every 3 to 12 months up to 6 years for diet, islet autoantibodies, and T1D. Altogether 6081 infants (78% of those invited) participated in the study. Dietary data were available for 5714 children (94.0%) and dietary and IA data were available for 5545 children (91.2%), of whom 3762(68%) had data on islet autoantibodies up to age 6 years. Information on T1D was available for all children. Data were analyzed in 2018 and end point data were updated in 2015.

Exposures: Each child's intake of cereals, gluten, and dietary fiber was calculated from repeated 3-day food records up to 6 years.

Main outcomes and measures: Islet autoimmunity was defined as repeated positivity for islet cell antibodies and at least 1 biochemical autoantibody of 3 analyzed, or T1D. Data on the diagnosis of T1D were obtained from Finnish Pediatric Diabetes Register.

Results: Of 5545 children (2950 boys [53.2%]), 246 (4.4%) developed IA and of 5714 children (3033 boys [53.1%]), 90 (1.6%) developed T1D during the 6-year follow-up. Based on joint models, the intake of oats (hazard ratio [HR], 1.08; 95% CI, 1.03-1.13), wheat (HR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.03-1.15), rye (HR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.03-1.23), gluten-containing cereals (HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.03-1.11), gluten without avenin from oats (HR, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.40-3.57), gluten with avenin (HR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.45-2.92), and dietary fiber (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.10-1.81) was associated with the risk of developing IA (HRs for 1 g/MJ increase in intake). The intake of oats (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00-1.21) and rye (HR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.03-1.41) was associated with the risk of developing T1D. After multiple testing correction, the associations with IA remained statistically significant.

Conclusions and relevance: A high intake of oats, gluten-containing cereals, gluten, and dietary fiber was associated with an increased risk of IA. Further studies are needed to confirm or rule out the findings and study potential mechanisms.