Celiac Disease - © lytnyc.com

Treatment In Infancy Could Head Off Celiac Disease

We’ve followed the new recommendations for treating and preventing Peanut allergies in children. I’ve suggested that similar techniques be tried for other diseases. Now, there’s news such a regime is being explored to help prevent development of Celiac disease…

Gluten-blessed foods - © celiac.orgImagine all the stuff kids who develop Celiac disease are missing
in their ddiets – and not just foods made from Wheat!
Those following them may not have to…

The idea, which now forms the central tenet of new recommendations for helping kids grow out of Peanut allergies and sensitivities, is to introduce a small amount of Peanut protein to their diets from an early age, increasing the ‘dose’ as sensitivity wanes.

I’ve noted several times as the new standard percolated through the human trials and made the certification rounds that this is something our grandparents and great-grands knew. That which was lost has been found again. Well, it now appears that a similar approach can be used to help fend off the development of Celiac Disease. But this time there’s a difference; researchers say giving kids who show a gluten sensitivity should be given large doses of gluten early in life to help eliminate their risk of developing Celiac Disease that lasts their whole life.

According to an abstract of the report on a recent study: “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease whereby eating gluten causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues. There are currently no strategies to prevent Celiac disease and treatment involves long-term exclusion of gluten from the diet. Even very small amounts of gluten in the diet of those with Celiac disease can cause damage to the lining of the gut, prevent proper absorption of food and result in symptoms including bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and tiredness.”

What they did

Researchers from King’s College London wanted to see what would happen if parents gave kids relatively large doses of gluten from the age of 4 months, rather than letting them continue to breast feed and avoid gluten-containing foods.

The results were compared to children who avoided allergenic foods and consumed only breast milk until age six months as per UK government guidelines.

Infants in the intervention arm of the EAT study were given 4g of wheat protein a week from four months of age. This was in the form of two wheat-based cereal biscuits such as Weetabix, representing an age-appropriate portion of wheat.

What they found

The results showed that among children who delayed gluten introduction until after six months of age, the prevalence of Celiac disease at three years of age was higher than expected – 1.4 percent of this group of 516 children. In contrast, among the 488 children who introduced gluten from four months of age, there were no cases of Celiac disease.

The takeaway

Study Lead Author Professor Gideon Lack said: “This is the first study that provides evidence that early introduction of significant amounts of wheat into a baby’s diet before six months of age may prevent the development of Celiac disease. This strategy may also have implications for other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes.”

He added that further study is definitely warranted.

My take

I hate to say, “I told you so!” But I can’t resist. In fact, let’s get out there and start looking at an even wider range of diseases and conditions that might respond to ‘desensitization’ therapy. At this point, who knows what other minor miracles our ancestors knew well have yet to be rediscovered by more recent generations!

~ Maggie J.