According to Danish researchers, whose study has just been published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a high intake of gluten during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk for the coming newborn of developing type 1 diabetes. However, this research needs to be confirmed by clinical trials in humans before questioning the diet of pregnant women.
Pregnant women who consume more than 20 g of gluten per day expose their children to type 1 diabetes
In their study, the Danish scientists used an animal model and observed a clear connection between high consumption of food that contain gluten during pregnancy and the development of type 1 diabetes in the children of these mothers.
Researchers at the Bartholin Institute in Denmark have investigated whether this finding can be extrapolated to humans.
They analyzed medical records of 63,529 pregnant women, gathered between January 1996 and October 2002. All of them also contained information about their diets during the 25th week of pregnancy. According to these data, the researchers estimated the gluten consumption at an average of 13 g.
After taking into account some influential external factors such as the mother’s age, body mass index (BMI) or smoking status, they observed that children of women with the highest gluten consumption (20 g/day or more) were twice as likely to give birth to children exposed to developing type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, those pregnant women who less than 7 g/day gave birth to healthy newborns.
The study needs to be confirmed with clinical trials in women, besides statistical data
Since this is only an observational study, it is difficult to estimate how accurate its conclusions are.
“The mechanisms involved could include increased inflammation or increased intestinal permeability,” the authors argue. They agree that further work is needed before considering new nutritional recommendations during pregnancy.
Gluten is a protein found in most cereals, especially wheat, barley, and oats. As such, it is located in many products that we consume every day.