Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Celiac Disease Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Cereal for Infants: A Link to Celiac Disease?

Study Shows Early Introduction of Cereal Containing Gluten May Raise Risk of Celiac Disease

WebMD Health News

May 17, 2005 -- Infants who are introduced to cereals between the ages of 4 months and 6 months may have a lower risk of developing celiac disease than those who start eating cereal earlier or later, according to new research.

Celiac disease is a condition in which the small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged after eating foods containing gluten, a type of protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The disease, which causes malabsorption of nutrients, usually develops in early childhood, and treatment requires following a strict gluten-free diet.

In the study, researchers found that infants at risk for the disease who were introduced to gluten-containing cereals in the first three months of life were five times more likely to develop celiac disease as children compared with those who started cereals between the ages of 4 months and 6 months.

The results appear in the May 18 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Determining Celiac Disease Risk

Although the exact cause of celiac disease is unknown, children who have a close relative with the condition or certain genetic markers recognized by the immune system and associated with the disease have a higher risk of developing the disease. These genetic markers are also associated with a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes, which means people with type 1 diabetes and their relatives are also at increased risk.

Even so, researchers say few people with these genetic variations actually develop celiac disease and other factors must also play a role in determining a person's risk.

Is Timing the Key?

In the study, researchers looked at whether the timing of when a high-risk infant was first exposed to gluten, such as cereal, affected their risk of developing celiac disease.

Researchers followed more than 1,500 children at risk for celiac disease for an average of about five years. They tested the children for celiac disease antibodies as a marker of their future risk of the disease. Antibodies are proteins created by the immune system that help fight infection and are involved in inflammation.

Today on WebMD

thumbnail for Gluten-free Diet slideshow
Slideshow
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Article
 
Gluten Intolerance Against Grain
Article
clams
Quiz
 
Various vegetables in sautee pan
Video
Expert Q And A Eating With Food Allergies
Article
 
Celiac Hope
Tool
Fresh produce in fridge drawer
Video