Dietary fiber during pregnancy reduces the risk of celiac disease

The diet of the mother during pregnancy apparently has a clear influence on the child’s risk of celiac disease. For example, if the mother-to-be practices a high-fiber diet, her child’s risk of celiac disease decreases.

Mothers can reduce their child’s risk of celiac disease with certain diets

It is often said that celiac disease cannot be prevented. However, in a study ( 1 ) presented on June 6, 2019 at the annual conference of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), it was found that the mother can reduce her child’s risk of celiac disease if she eats a high-fiber diet.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease refers to an allegedly hereditary and lifelong gluten intolerance, which is one of the autoimmune diseases. As soon as gluten is eaten, the intestine reacts with diarrhea and inflammation. Celiac disease can also cause constipation, bloating, migraines, abdominal pain and depression, as well as deficiency symptoms due to poor nutrient utilization.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in many grains, e.g. in wheat, spelt, rye and barley. People with celiac disease, therefore, eat gluten-free for the rest of their lives and choose alternatives such as rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, chestnuts, etc. instead of cereals containing gluten.

The more fiber the mother eats, the lower the risk of her child suffering from celiac disease

In the above-mentioned study, scientists from Norway showed data from more than 88,000 children that the risk of celiac disease in the child in the first 11 years of life could be reduced by 8 percent for every 10 g of fiber (in the mother’s diet during pregnancy). Mothers who ate the most fiber (more than 45g per day) reduced their children’s risk of celiac disease by 34 percent compared to those mothers who ate less than 19g of fiber per day.

Fiber from fruits and vegetables better than from grains

The dietary fibers from fruits and vegetables were found to be more effective than those from grains. Whether or not the mother consumed gluten-containing foods during pregnancy had no effect on the child’s risk of celiac disease. According to the first mouse studies, however, it is assumed that a gluten-free diet for the mother during pregnancy can reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in the child.

Does the intestinal flora protect against celiac disease?

“Currently, there is very little evidence on the influence of diet during pregnancy on the child’s risk of celiac disease,”explained dr. Ketil Størdal, lead scientist on the study. Because this is the first study of maternal fiber consumption during pregnancy, we cannot yet promise whether a specific dietary intervention by the pregnant woman will prevent celiac disease in her child. However, we are currently examining whether the mother’s dietary fiber intake affects the child’s intestinal flora in any way and can thus protect against celiac disease.”

Children often suffer from celiac disease – undiagnosed

Celiac disease affects 10 percent of the population, according to many official sources, although not all sufferers show symptoms. Many children suffer from celiac disease but are not presented to or diagnosed by a practitioner, so that people diagnosed with celiac disease only make up a small proportion of those affected would suggest that the number of unreported cases is high.

Undetected celiac disease can lead to serious consequential damage

In the case of children in particular, however, it is extremely important to make the right diagnosis in good time, as otherwise complications and developmental disorders can occur, such as weight loss, delayed puberty, iron deficiency anemia, chronic fatigue and osteoporosis.

Dietary fiber during pregnancy

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