The timing of gluten introduction into a baby’s diet does not reduce the risk of developing celiac disease, a group of European pediatric gastroenterologists said in January, reversing their earlier position on gluten introduction for children and related guidelines.
Gluten may be introduced any time between four to 12 completed months of age, the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) said in a position paper on the issue.
The researchers further noted that while breastfeeding should be promoted for its other well-established health benefits, there was no evidence that breastfeeding during or before gluten introduction was related in any way to reducing the risk of celiac disease.
The new position is a reversal of ESPGHAN’s 2008 recommendations that babies not be introduced to gluten either before four months of age, or after seven months, and that they be breastfed while introduction takes place. Since then, two controlled trials have shown that the age at gluten introduction does not affect overall rates of celiac disease during childhood. Instead, they found that earlier gluten introduction simply caused symptoms of the disease to present sooner.
Researchers added that more work needs to be done on devising screening strategies for young children in families with celiac disease history, and that we also need to know more about the effects of late gluten introduction, for instance, after one year of age.