A high fibre diet during pregnancy may protect against coeliac disease

A possible link between coeliac disease and dietary fibre intake during pregnancy has been found, with a study showing the risk of childhood coeliac disease was 8 per cent lower per 10 gram increase in maternal fibre intake.

For expectant mothers with fibre intake of more than 45 grams per day, the risk of their child developing coeliac disease was 34 per cent lower in comparison to those whose fibre intake was less than 19 grams per day.

It appears that the source of fibre matters, with high fibre intake from fruits and vegetables, rather than from cereals, associated with the lowest risk.

The population-based study assessed over 88,000 children born in Norway between 1999 and 2009. The researchers measured mothers’ intake of fibre and gluten during pregnancy before analysing whether each child had received a clinical diagnosis of coeliac disease before the age of approximately 11 years.

The nature of the association between dietary fibre and coeliac disease is still not clear, with the potential impact of maternal fibre intake on children’s gut flora one of the ways these findings may be explained.

The research also found that a mother’s dietary intake of gluten during pregnancy was not associated with a higher risk of coeliac disease in her child.

Reference: Størdal et al. 2019. Maternal gluten and fibre intake during pregnancy and risk of childhood celiac disease: the Norwegian mother and child cohort study. Presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).