HealthDay News — For children at increased risk, increased gluten intake during the first 5 years of life is associated with an elevated incidence of celiac disease autoimmunity and celiac disease, according to a study published in the Aug. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Carin Andrén Aronsson, PhD, from Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues followed 8,676 newborns carrying human leukocyte antigen genotypes associated with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. In 6757 children, screening for celiac disease was performed annually from the age of 2 years; data were available on gluten intake for 6605 children.

The researchers found that 18% of the 6605 children developed celiac disease autoimmunity and 7% developed celiac disease. For both outcomes, incidence peaked at the age of 2 to 3 years. The risk for celiac disease autoimmunity increased with daily gluten intake (hazard ratio for every 1-g/day increase in gluten consumption, 1.30; absolute risk by age of 3 years if reference amount of gluten was consumed and gluten intake was 1-g/day higher than reference, 28.1 and 34.2%, respectively; absolute risk difference, 6.1%). Daily gluten intake correlated with an increased risk for celiac disease (hazard ratio, 1.50; absolute risks, 20.7 and 27.9%, respectively; absolute risk difference, 7.2%).

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“Additional studies are needed before a recommendation is made to change the current practice of gluten introduction into a child’s diet,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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