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