Researchers at the Horsens Regional Hospital in Denmark examined medical records of 6,319 women with celiac disease and a group of 63,166 women who weren’t diagnosed with the condition. Comparing the two groups, they looked at the chance and timing of pregnancy, and complications including: live and stillbirths, molar and ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages.
The women in the study who had not yet received a celiac disease diagnosis had 11 more miscarriages per 1,000 pregnancies and 1.62 extra stillbirths per 1,000 pregnancies.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, also found that in the two years before a celiac diagnosis, there were 25 fewer pregnancies per 1,000 and the overall risk of pregnancy complications in undiagnosed women was 15 more per 1,000 pregnancies compared to the women who did not have the condition.
“This is good news for people with celiac disease who are on a gluten-free diet and are planning pregnancy,” says Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, director of clinical research at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, who was not involved in the study. “It appears that the excess risk of these pregnancy outcomes is only present before the diagnosis.”
He says it makes sense for women who can’t get pregnant to get tested for the disease. “Infertility can be one of the symptoms of celiac disease, and so testing for it should be offered to women with unexplained infertility,” says Lebwohl, who has been involved in other research on unexplained infertility and celiac disease in the United States.
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