Objectives: This study investigated the effect of gluten-free diet on pregnancy outcome and lactation in 125 women affected with celiac disease.
Methods: The study has been designed as a case-control study and a before-after study.
Results: In the case-control study, comparison of 94 untreated with 31 treated celiac women indicated that the relative risk of abortion was 8.90 times higher (95% confidence limits: 1.19/66.3), the relative risk of low birth weight baby was 5.84 times higher (90% confidence limits: 1.07/31.9), and duration of breast feeding was 2.54 times shorter (p < 0.001) in untreated mothers. Abortion, low birth weight of baby, and duration of breast feeding did not significantly relate to the severity of celiac disease among untreated women. In the before-after study, 12 pregnant celiac women in either treated or untreated condition were compared. Results indicated that the gluten-free diet reduced the relative risk of abortion by 9.18 times (95% confidence limits: 1.05/79.9), reduced the number of low birth weight babies from 29.4% down to zero (p < 0.05), and increased duration of breast feeding 2.38 times (p < 0.10). Both case-control and before-after studies indicated that threatened abortion and premature delivery did not significantly relate to treatment of celiac disease.
Conclusions: The high incidence of abortion, of low birth weight babies, and of short breast-feeding periods is effectively corrected by gluten-free diet in women with celiac disease.