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Delayed Introduction To Gluten May Not Prevent Celiac Disease In At-Risk Infants: Study

Update Date: Oct 02, 2014 09:05 AM EDT

Loss of tolerance to gluten - a protein composite found in wheat, rye and barley - is a dynamic process and that neither breastfeeding or delaying the introduction of gluten-containing foods provide significant protection against the disorder, finds a new study. 

"One of our most important findings was that the timing of gluten introduction - whether early or late in the first year of life - made no difference to the subsequent development of celiac disease," said Carlo Catassi, MD, co-director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment and principal investigator of the study, in the press release. "While earlier studies led to the hypothesis that there was a time window, between 4 and 7 months of age, during which gluten could safely be introduced to at-risk children, our results indicate we can tell mother not to worry so much about when they introduce gluten into their children's diet."

 "Of the several factors we studied, it's very clear that genetic background is by far the most important in determining which infants will develop this autoimmune condition. We were particularly surprised that breastfeeding at any age provided no protective effect," added Alessio Fasano, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment and a co-author of the report.

Researchers hope that their findings will "pave the way for breakthrough studies that will capitalize on these findings and lead to preventive interventions."

The study was detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

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