How To Prevent Gluten Sensitivity When Weaning Your Baby
Coeliac Disease has got many new mothers worried. Coeliac disease is a hypersensitivity to gluten that can cause serious symptoms and side effects. Diagnoses are on the increase around the world, both due to better testing and awareness, and because more and more people have Coeliac disease now.
I am frequently asked if it's better to introduce gluten into your babies diet earlier or later or whilst still breastfeeding or not at all... As new research comes to light guidelines for introducing gluten into your babies diet are frequently updated. It can get very confusing as there is so much outdated and conflicting advice.
And the guidelines have just changed again!! The old advice was the introduce solids whilst still breastfeeding. Some research out of Scandinavia seemed to suggest that this offered some protection.
But more recently this Italian study found this to be untrue:
“Neither the delayed introduction of gluten nor breast-feeding modified the risk of celiac disease among at-risk infants, although the later introduction of gluten was associated with a delayed onset of disease. ”
— Introduction of Gluten, HLA Status, and the Risk of Celiac Disease in Children
It's possible you can delay the development of coeliac disease by delaying the introduction of gluten, but it seems that in the end the most important factor is genetics. If you, your partner or your older children have coeliac disease your baby has a 1 in 10 chance of developing it too.
If your baby is going to get the disease, sadly, there doesn't seem to be much you can do that is known to prevent it. Of course there are plenty of researchers still on the case looking for ways to lessen the impact of this disease, and I'll keep you posted.
Whilst this may sound like bad news, the golden lining is that you can just introduce gluten into your babies diet (even if your baby is high risk) like any other food. Watch for reactions and seek medical advice.
It's clear now that gluten does not come through in breastmilk, so there is no need for you to avoid it if you are breastfeeding a child who is or may be sensitive to gluten.
Just eat a healthy range of foods, and introduce your baby to a healthy range of foods, but don't stress out about the details too much unless you notice a problem.