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New study looks at impact of giving infants gluten earlier

Posted at 3:52 PM, Oct 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-18 15:52:06-04

INDIANAPOLIS — As a new parent, there is a lot of conflicting advice on how and when to introduce new foods to your infant.

A lot of studies have shifted to focus on food allergies and if the introduction of certain foods at a young age can help prevent you from getting that food allergy as an adult.

That is why a new study about the introduction of gluten is raising some eyebrows.

A study by JAMA looked at the early introduction of gluten to infants.

This particular study showed that infants who were given a higher amount of gluten during the first 4 to 6 months had a reduced amount of celiac diagnosis by the age of 3.

Celiac Disease isn't the same as a food allergy. CD refers to an immune disease in which people can't eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

In this study that followed kids until they were 3, the results suggest that early high-dose consumption of gluten should be considered as a strategy to prevent CD.

This study is ongoing.

WRTV talked to Dr. Brandon Sparks, a gastroenterologist with Riley Children's Health, about what this study means to both parents and doctors.

"This study is interesting because they differed from previous studies in that they recommended a higher amount of gluten for kids to eat and then also introduced at an earlier age," Sparks said. "My biggest takeaway from the study is we just need more work to be done."

Sparks said it is always important for parents to follow the guidance and recommendations for infacts from the American Academy of Pediatrics and WHO and their child's pediatrician.

"Each child is different and may be ready for complimentary foods at different times, complimentary foods being anything other than breast milk or formula," Sparks said.

Sparks also said if a parent has questions or concerns about food allergies or celiac disease, it is always best to consult your child's doctor.

Riley Children's Health is also working on a Celiac Disease Clinic. It will be primarily telehealth focused. A first visit would be via video chat. If needed, doctors would see a child in-person for an upper endoscopy.

He adds Celiac Disease is found more often in adults than infants or children.

If you want to read more on the study done by JAMA you can go to https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2770801

And if you want to learn more about Riley's pediatric gastroenterology, visit https://www.rileychildrens.org/departments/gastroenterology