Gluten Intake at 18 Months Associated with Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

Barcelona, Spain—New research shows that, for each extra 10g of gluten consumed per day by an 18 month old child, risk of developing type 1 diabetes goes up 46%. No association was found between the mother’s gluten intake during pregnancy and type 1 diabetes in her child. The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, Spain.

The study included 86,306 children in The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study born from 1999 to 2009, followed up until April 2018. Type 1 diabetes was ascertained in a nationwide childhood diabetes registry; gluten intake was estimated from a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire at week 22 of pregnancy and a questionnaire completed by the guardian when the child was 18 months old. During the follow-up, 346 children developed type 1 diabetes, a rate of 0.4%.

Related: Study Connects Gluten Intake to Celiac Disease Risk
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According to a press release, The authors suggested that the association could be due to gluten’s influence on gut microbiota and ability to induce inflammation, but note that exact mechanism is unknown. “If anything,” they said, “we believe that gluten works in combination with other environmental factors such as virus infections in predisposed children.”

The authors added that this is not cause to excise gluten from the diet: “We need confirmation from further studies, and ideally a randomized controlled trial to determine any relationship between gluten intake and type 1 diabetes with certainty… it could be that simply reducing gluten intake would be enough to reduce risk and this is easier to achieve than complete avoidance.”