Although the precise cause of Celiac Disease (CD) is unknown, one of the most common risk factors is genetic inheritance. The Mayo Clinic states CD can also be spontaneously triggered after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional stress.  Most recently, a study published online in Pediatrics found that late introduction of gluten to the diet and breastfeeding beyond 1 year were associated with a greater risk of developing CD.  However, although there was an association, this does not mean there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship.  The study analyzed data on 82,200 Norwegian children, 324 of which developed CD. Of those who developed CD, 47% started eating foods with gluten after 6 months of age, 45% started eating foods with gluten between 5-6 months versus only 8% who started eating foods with gluten at or before 4 month of age.  Ultimately, the risk of developing CD was increased by 27% when gluten was introduced later in age. Breastfeeding after 1 year was associated with a 49% increase in the risk for CD.  Despite this, experts believed this was not sufficient grounds to indicate any disadvantage of breast-feeding. Obviously, more research is needed in this arena, but it offers new insight on the development on this gluten-restricting condition.

Source: Stordal et al. Early feeding and risk of Celiac Disease in a prospective birth cohort. Pediatrics 2013; 132: 1–8. Available at: www.pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2013-1752

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