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Preventing birth complications with gluten-free? A review of the science.

GlutenFree.com Editorial Staff | August 2013 | 3 min read

35_celiac_disease_and_birth_complications

For expecting women who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, one of the most important contributing factors to a healthy pregnancy is also maintaining a gluten-free diet. This keeps mom healthy while providing nutrients and calories her baby needs.

While it is possible to become pregnant and maintain a pregnancy with undiagnosed celiac disease, or while eating a wheat-containing diet despite known celiac disease, some studies have shown an increased risk for poor pregnancy outcomes compared to the normal population.

Key Points

  • An Italian study found that of 845 pregnant women screened for anti-endomysial antibody (EMA), 12 had biopsy-proven celiac disease.
  • Seven of these pregnancies resulted in adverse outcomes, two miscarried and five delivered low birth-weight babies.
  • Of the five multiparous women with celiac disease, four had previously miscarried, which was significantly higher than in the study control population.
  • The study also concluded unfavorable events associated with celiac disease may be prevented by a gluten-free diet.1
  • Additionally, numerous studies have shown that improvement of celiac disease, with implementation of a gluten-free diet, may decrease miscarriage rates, improve fetal nutritional support and overall pregnancy outcome. 2 When a gluten-free diet is maintained, the statistics related to pregnancy outcomes become equal to that of the normal population.

Sources:

Martinelli P, Troncone R, Paparo F, et al. Coeliac disease and unfavourable outcome of pregnancy. Gut. 2000;46:332–335

Celiac disease: fertility and pregnancy. Eliakim, R Sherer DM. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2001: 51(1):3-7

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