High gluten diet in pregnancy ups child's diabetes risk

High gluten diet in pregnancy increases risk of diabetes in children

Researchers found Having a high gluten diet during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes among children.

The findings, led by Julie Antvorskov from the Bartholin Institute in Denmark, showed that children of women with an intake of 20g per day or more gluten had double the risk of developing Type-1 diabetes, compared to those with less than 7g per day.

Previous studies among animals have shown a gluten-free maternal diet during pregnancy nearly "completely prevented" type 1 diabetes among offspring.

Average gluten intake was 13 grammes per day, ranging from less than 7 grammes per day to more than 20 grammes per day, and the researchers identified 247 cases of type 1 diabetes (a rate of 0.37 per cent) among the participants' children.

The researchers, from Denmark, Iceland and the United States, stressed that they had not proved the link and that more studies were needed before women should alter their diets.

The scientists are not sure why this would trigger Type 1 diabetes, but believe gluten may provoke inflammation in the metabolic system. But two human studies investigating a link between maternal gluten consumption and islet autoimmunity in children reported no association.

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Lucy Trelfa, research communications officer at Diabetes UK, said the research is interesting, but that "this research does not show that gluten causes type 1 diabetes", adding that it's "far too early to say just how big a player gluten is".

"This increase is faster than can be accounted for by genetic drift, pointing to the importance of environmental factors".

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley and is suggested to affect the development of type 1 diabetes. They are rich in proline and glutamine, which makes them highly hydrophobic and partly resistant to intestinal degradation.

Potential mechanisms linking gluten with type 1 diabetes include increased inflammation, more gut permeability, and adjustment of gut microbiota, the researchers noted.

The risk of children developing the condition "increased proportionately" with the amount of gluten their mother ate while pregnant. "Therefore, Antvorskov and colleagues' study can not determine whether the possible adverse effects of gluten that might eventually trigger type 1 diabetes come through prenatal exposure, childhood exposure, or both". However, the researchers say this was a high quality study with a large sample size, and they were able to adjust for a number of factors that could have affected the results. "In addition, the role of unmeasured or unidentified confounders can never be fully excluded in observational studies".


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