Age of gluten exposure impacts development of coeliac disease

Presented for the first time at the International Coeliac Disease Meeting (see p4) were results of the Italian– American research project, the Risk of Coeliac Disease and Age of Gluten Introduction (CELIPREV) co-ordinated by Carlo Catassi, a lecturer in paediatrics at the Marche University Polytechnic, Ancona, Italy, and co-medical director at the Centre for Celiac Research in Maryland.

Nine hundred babies with at least one coeliac-diagnosed parent have been involved, and have been divided into two groups – one in which gluten has been introduced into the diet by six months, and one in which gluten introduction is delayed until twelve months. It has been found that babies in the second group have a four-fold reduced risk of developing coeliac disease by the age of four or five.

‘Up until now, we’ve followed the children for five years, but we need to wait to see whether this excellent result carries through in subsequent years,’ said Catassi. ‘But there are good reasons to hope that many cases of coeliac disease can prevented in this way.’
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First Published in November 2008

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