> Diabetes Research > Gluten-free Diet doesn’t reduce Babies’ risk of Diabetes

Gluten-free Diet doesn’t reduce Babies’ risk of Diabetes

For the first year of babies with diabetes history in their families, a gluten-free diet does not lower the risk of developing diabetes, German researchers said recently.

The study suggested that babies exposed to gluten as part of their early diet may be more likely to develop type 1 diabetes later in childhood.

The study, which followed 150 children, had a “reasonably clear” results according to Dorothy Becker, director of the diabetes program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Researchers followed the babies with at least one parent or sibling who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – marked by death of islet cells in the pancreas that secrete the hormone insulin.

Half of the respondents were exposed to gluten for the first time at the age of six months. For the other half, exposure to the protein was delayed until after their first birthday. The two different diets showed no impact on the babies’ ability to grow or gain weight.

At the age of three, three children exposed to gluten early had developed type 1 diabetes, compared to four in the other group. Signs that the children had developed immune reactions to their own islet cells appeared in 11 children given gluten at six months of age, compared to 13 who first took gluten only when they were one year old.

Though some research suggested that delaying exposure to gluten can increase the risk of developing celiac disease, the German scientists said they found no evidence for the link.

Almost 30 percent of the parents said they did not strictly follow the diet plan. However, researchers said that the study show that although delaying the inclusion of gluten in a baby’s diet causes no harm, it doesn’t mean it reduces the risk of diabetes or immune-related early-indicators of insulin problems.

In the United States, about 20 out of 100,000 kids under age 10 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Type 1 diabetes normally strikes children, unlike type 2 diabetes which is normally a disease of adults and linked to old age and obesity.

Majority of them possibly inherited a genetic predisposition to the disease from their parents. However, genes alone do not fully explain why people develop the condition. Environmental exposures are also thought to be crucial to develop it.

Gluten is the protein in wheat and other grains that makes dough elastic and gives bread its chewiness. About one percent of people in the US have a condition called celiac disease, in which immune reactions to gluten damage the intestines.

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