Can including gluten early in an infant’s diet prevent celiac disease (CD)? New data supports this possibility. Analysis of the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) randomized, controlled trial published in JAMA Pediatrics this September reported that none of the 488 children in the early introduction group who consumed around 500 mg of gluten per day (equivalent to about ¼ – ½ slice of bread) from the age of 4 months developed CD by the age of 3, compared to 1.4% of the 516 children who did not receive early introduction and instead were exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age.
We are eager to see future studies on the potential therapeutic approach of early consumption of gluten in preventing CD. Together with the studies that show that early allergen introduction reduces the risk of developing food allergies, it seems that there is a critical window within the first few months of life where safe exposures, within an environment of healthy inputs (such as breastfeeding where possible, and probiotics, vitamin D and fish oil via Mom) may help reduce the chance of immune system disturbances.