In the mid-1980s something odd occurred in Scandinavia that would be mirrored throughout the western world. Pediatricians in Sweden started reporting an increase in babies and toddlers with celiac disease.
Better diagnosis, right? Maybe. Or maybe, says new research, it was how babies were fed. Not mote gluten as a problem, less. In 1996, gluten diagnoses began to drop again, after quadrupling from 1984 to 1996.
What changed? In 1982 Swedish authorities recommended holding off on any glutens until a child was 6 months old and suddenly celiac disease went up. Anna Myléus of the University of Umeå, Sweden and colleagues studied this Swedish epidemic and concluded that the change in the infants’ diet to protect against celiac disease was actually causing more of it. It’s also possible to guard against the disease by introducing gluten in the proper way, Myléus argues in her doctoral thesis.
People with celiac disease can't consume the protein gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley, it is like poison to them and causes an inflammatory reaction in the intestines. Myléus determined it was the combination of holding off until gluten later and that babies were getting more of it that led to the surge in diagnoses. Mothers had been told to breastfeed longer and to hold off on gluten until later. Meanwhile, major baby food manufacturers increased the amounts of glutenous flour in powdered porridges. The strongest link in the 13,000 occurred in mothers who stopped breastfeeding and introduced more gluten later.
So introducing small amounts of gluten earlier may be the solution to at least some cases.
Myléus also checked for celiac disease links to vaccines but did not find any. Sorry, Mercola.com anti-science cranks.
Counter coeliac disease with early glutens by Ingrid Spilde ScienceNordic.com
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