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Researchers still don’t entirely understand why some people develop autoimmune problems from eating foods with gluten while others seem to tolerate gluten without difficulty. But a study in Sweden shows that children less than 1 year old who stop breastfeeding, are eating gluten-containing grains and have suffered multiple infections have a much greater risk of celiac (an autoimmune response to gluten).
In this research, the highest risk was seen for children who had several infections before they were 6 months old, ate large amounts of gluten and had ceased breastfeeding before the gluten was introduced in their diets.
Dr. Anna Myléus, who led this study, says: “While we do not know if the increased risk is due to a genetic predisposition to both infection and celiac disease, our results highlight the importance of breastfeeding in reducing risk of celiac disease, especially for an infant who has frequent infections.”