Does Feeding Baby Gluten Early On Cut Celiac Risk?
Why should breast-feeding go along with it? "Breast milk has been shown to promote healthy bacteria in the gut," Ivarsson said.
If mothers can breast-feed, they should, she added. However, genetic susceptibility also plays a role, she said, so a child could still get celiac disease despite following the feeding recommendations.
If a child does show symptoms, get early treatment, she said. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea or constipation, abdominal cramping and gas.
"This is actually what we have been advising" for feeding, said Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
"We often get asked by people who are having a baby and there is celiac disease in their family, what could they do to reduce the risk of the baby getting celiac disease?" Green said. "We've actually been advising the parents to breast-feed and introduce a little gluten between 4 and 6 months." The recommendation is based on other research also finding that approach to be effective, he added.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has no official recommendations about reducing celiac disease risk, but its experts say that the risk of celiac disease is reduced 52 percent in infants breast-fed at the time gluten is introduced.
To learn more about celiac disease, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation.