A newborn can be a source of gluten contamination, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE.
The study’s authors say a baby’s intestinal tract contains enough gluten in its gut to cause a condition called gluten sensitivity, and that babies who are not genetically predisposed to developing the condition may be able to safely reduce their gluten intake to reduce their risk of developing the disorder.
“This is a critical first step to help the baby get back on track with his/her diet,” said lead author Andrea DellaPergola, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Medicine.
“If a child is already gluten sensitive, then he or she needs to avoid gluten-containing foods for the rest of their lives, as well as other foods that are not considered part of the gluten-sensitive diet.”
DellaPergenola and her colleagues used stool samples from newborns at their UCSD School of Veterinary Medicine to analyze the microbes in their gut.
The team then compared the stool samples to samples taken from people who had experienced a gluten sensitivity condition called BIV, or gluten-induced acute multisystem toxicity.BIV is a condition in which the immune system attacks and kills the bacteria in the gut, and is considered the leading cause of infant mortality.
Biv is also a risk factor for autism spectrum disorder, an autism-related neurological disorder in which people who have been diagnosed with autism are more likely to have BIV and/or autism spectrum disorders.
The researchers found that in babies with BIV who were eating gluten-based foods at the time of the stool sample collection, they were significantly more likely than infants who had not eaten gluten, to have an increased risk of BIV.
“There is no question that we are in a global pandemic, and our understanding of the causes of the pandemic is improving,” DellaPegola said.
“Our results suggest that if a newborn is already intolerant to gluten, then avoiding gluten-related foods is the best course of action.”
DallaPergolia says the results of the study are important because parents may want to take a closer look at a baby to ensure that their baby is gluten sensitive.
“We are also seeing a shift in parents’ understanding of what they can do,” she said.
“Our study is the first of its kind, but this could be an important first step in helping babies develop their intestinal tolerance.”
The study involved more than 1,500 newborns.
The team was able to identify a significant number of cases of Biv, which is more common in infants who have not eaten wheat or other grains for several weeks.
The researchers say that if these babies continue to eat gluten, the risk of autism spectrum diagnosis will rise, which may make the decision to try a gluten free diet difficult.
“We do not yet know how many babies will have Biv because we do not know how common it is,” DallaPergenolia said.
DellaPebola is working to develop a gluten intolerant diet for infants.
She said that if parents do decide to try to limit their babies’ gluten intake, the researchers suggest following these recommendations:Limit gluten- and dairy-based food to 1% or less.
Use only wheat-based gluten- or dairy-containing food.
Avoid gluten-sweetened products, such as chocolate, crackers and ice cream.
Avoid breads, cookies, cracker crumbs, chips and biscuits.
Limit the amount of gluten a baby eats.
Eat gluten-less foods like pasta, rice, pasta sauces and soups.
Limit gluten in infant formula.
Follow a gluten sensitive infant diet plan.
The results of this study are a reminder that gluten-intolerance is a lifelong condition and that a baby can’t control when he or her intestinal tract becomes resistant to gluten.
“The best way to protect a newborn’s health is to avoid any foods that can trigger gluten intolerance,” DllaPergolas said.