Gluten During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood Diabetes.

by | September 23, 2018

Are you a carboholic during pregnancy? You might want to put down the cookies, and skip the gluten during pregnancy. 

New research suggests, that if a pregnant woman eats a lot of high-gluten foods (bread, cookies, cereal),  the odds that her child will have type 1 diabetes rises consequently.

In the study, pregnant women who had the highest consumption of gluten had double the risk of having a child with type 1 diabetes compared to those who ate the least gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Authors of the study noted that it’s too soon to recommend that pregnant women change their diets based on the results of this one study, yet, it may be mindful that gluten during pregnancy is something to consider.

“The study brings new ideas to how type 1 diabetes develops. We did not know that the pregnancy period is important for the development of the disease [or] that the development of the disease is starting that early in life,” said study co-author Dr. Knud Josefsen.

gluten during pregnancy

“And it also holds the potential to reduce the frequency of the disease by simply changing the diet during pregnancy,” says Josefsen, a senior researcher at the Bartholin Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He added that, “the study is observational and the link that we describe is an association,” and not a cause-and-effect relationship, Josefsen said. The research also needs to be repeated in other populations.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ), who published the study, examined data on more than 63,000 pregnant women from Denmark.

The women, who were enrolled into the Danish National Birth Cohort between January 1996 and October 2002, completed a food frequency questionnaire when they were 25 weeks pregnant, which measured the amount of gluten they consumed.

gluten during pregnancy

Gluten During Pregnancy 

The latest study included data from almost 64,000 pregnant women enrolled from 1996 through 2002. Nearly 250 of these women’s children developed type 1 diabetes.

The women answered questions gluten during pregnancy, and how they ate when they were 25 weeks’ pregnant.

The average gluten intake was 13 grams per day. The range was less than 7 grams per day to more than 20 grams per day. Josefsen said a slice of bread has about 3 grams of gluten. A large serving of pasta — about two-thirds of a cup — has 5 to 10 grams of gluten, he said.

Researchers found that a child’s risk of type 1 diabetes increased proportionally with every 10 grams of the mother’s daily gluten intake.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is present in many foods — including bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, and cookies. Gluten triggers the immune system disorder called celiac disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed.

It’s already known that there’s a link between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes — approximately 10 percent of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease, Josefsen said.

“This is the first study to suggest an association between high gluten intake during pregnancy and the risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore, it is too early to change dietary recommendations concerning gluten intake,” says Maija Miettinen, co-author of an editorial that accompanied the study. Miettinen is a researcher with the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland.

Julie Nealon

Associate Editor, New York USA | Contactable via [email protected]


Categories: Pregnancy


2 Responses to “Gluten During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood Diabetes.”

  1. Shereen Theisen
    September 23rd, 2018 @ 6:23 pm


  2. JoAnn
    September 26th, 2018 @ 4:13 pm

    This is very interesting and certainly adds another piece to the puzzle.
    However even before this study, a growing body of evidence about the harms of gluten, has caused me to caution those adopting a vegan diet, to NOT inadvertently consume MORE bread, pasta, baked goods etc in place of the meat, dairy and eggs they are eliminating, for I believe doing so, is a major cause of why some people give up being vegan saying that they just didn’t feel as good. They may blame it on their lack of animal protein, when in fact it was not a “lack” that made them feel worse, but rather increased intake of gluten.
    Likewise, I believe gluten explains the popularity of low-carb, paleo, and ketogenic diets, as these may be the first time, a person experiences what it feels like to get off gluten — and they can become evangelical about how much better they feel.
    That said, there are still other possible explanations for the association found in this study — for example, in many cases, gluten comes packed with saturated fat too. Like pasta with Alfredo sauce, or donuts, or pastries, or bread and butter. These things can up-regulate chronic inflammation, and alter the gut microbiomo — both of which could increase the development of autoimmune diseases like T1D.
    And it’s been known that a protein in cow’s milk (Bovine Serum Albumin) is a trigger of T1D in genetically susceptible people — perhaps diets higher in gluten are also higher in dairy products?
    In any event thanks for bringing this research to my attention.


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