Baby’s Age at Gluten Introduction Seems to Make No Difference

babiesWe’ve talked before about how terrifying I think babies are, right?

Not that babies themselves are scary (in the way that, say, clowns strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest amongst us). It’s more in the shocking number of ways that things can go “wrong” with them.

It seems like for every malady out there, there are 5 different courses of action. Each is guaranteed to keep the baby in question safe – and comes with strict warnings about the dangers of veering off the path of righteousness. For example: when do you feed your child gluten? Do you even feed it to them at all?

I’m worrying a bit prematurely. Probably should get a boyfriend first. But for those of you approaching baby-dom, or with babies approaching solid food-dom, a new study has some slight glimmer of knowledge.

The study in question was completed by German researchers in Munich and Dresden. They examined 150 babies with a family history of Type 1 diabetes and a risk HLA genotype, and split them into two groups: one to be exposed to gluten at 6 months, and one at 12 months.

About 70% of the families followed protocol, so their children were monitored for height and weight, along with growth and autoantibodies to transglutaminase C [TGCAs]), islet autoantibodies to insulin, GAD, insulinoma-associated protein 2, and Type 1 diabetes.

Of these babies, there seems to have been no real difference in whether or not they developed any of these autoimmune disorders. So it might not really matter when and if you first give your child gluten. As the study concludes, “Delaying gluten exposure until the age of 12 months is safe but does not substantially reduce the risk for islet autoimmunity in genetically at-risk children.”

As a disclaimer, I’ve only read the abstract of the study and the explanation of it on I’m left with a few questions, which might potentially have an impact on how people feel about the study:

How long were the children studied? The abstract indicates that they were tested quarterly until age three, and yearly thereafter – but no hints as to whether the study closed when the children were 5 or 15.

Assuming the children were breast-fed as infants, were the mothers on gluten-free diets? Does this even matter? I really don’t know if this matters or not, but it seems like it would be useful data to collect.

How much gluten were the children introduced to, and how frequently? Surely there’s a difference between a bowl of cream of wheat every morning and the occasional spoonful of oat milk.

These answers could very well be in the full study and could have made no difference, but I have to wonder.

What do you think? If you have or plan to have a baby, how will you handle the question of gluten?

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