The addition of oats to a gluten-free diet does not affect the symptoms, histology, immunity, or serologic features in patients with celiac disease, according to a study published in Gastroenterology.

Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez, MD, MSc, Department of Medicine, Farncombe Family Digestive Research Institute, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis using 28 studies to evaluate the safety of oats in a gluten-free diet in patients with celiac disease. Studies included in the analysis reported patient symptoms, results from serology tests, and results from histologic analyses.

The results of the meta-analysis showed that adult patients with celiac disease reported no symptomatic differences after 12 months of a gluten-free diet, with or without oats (standardized mean difference, -0.22).

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Oat consumption for 12 months also did not affect results from serologic tests, histologic scores (relative risk for histologic findings in patients who consumed oats, 0.24) or intraepithelial lymphocyte counts (standardized mean difference, 0.21).

The investigators note that subgroup analyses did not reveal any differences between adults and children. Additionally, no change was observed on any of the measured outcomes after long-term consumption of oats.

“Current evidence suggests that non-contaminated oats can be used in patients with CD [celiac disease] but there is still a need for more rigorous data from well-designed [randomized clinical trials] evaluating the effect of pure oats in the short and long term, in both children and adult patients with CD,” the study authors concluded. “Ideally, relevant information regarding the source of oats, including cultivars and amount of oats consumed and compliance to [a gluten-free diet] should be provided.”


Pinto-Sanchez MI, Causada-Calo N, Bercik P, et al. Safety of adding oats to a gluten-free diet for patients with celiac disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical and observational studies. Gastroenterology. 2017;153(2):395-409.