In a study published in the December 2012 issue of Biomedcentral Pediatrics, researchers link multiple infections in children younger than 2 years of age to increased risk for celiac disease.
They also found a synergistic effect between infections and gluten introduction. In other words, if you introduce foods containing gluten to your baby’s diet at the same time he or she has an infection, you further increase the risk for celiac disease.
This study also further corroborated previous research linking the timing of when we end breastfeeding and when we introduce gluten-containing foods into a child’s diet to increased risk for celiac disease.
I find several interesting tangents from this research.
Many leading celiac researchers and autoimmune disease researchers feel there may be a relationship between changing gut bacteria, gut permeability and increased risk of autoimmune diseases, including celiac disease.
Having multiple infections likely changed the gut bacteria in these young children… however, their gut bacteria may have also changed as a result of taking an antibiotic multiple times to treat the infections.
I know I developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or what was diagnosed as IBS at the time, after I was prescribed the antibiotic tetracycline for an extended period of time in my youth.
Breastfeeding also influences a child’s gut bacteria. Some research suggests people (even adults) experience a strengthened immune system when they take probiotic supplements with lactobacillus reuteri, a bacteria present in human breast milk.
In addition, studies show that as we age the profile of bacteria in our gut changes. Some theorize that the way it changes creates greater vulnerability to diseases. Our intestinal tracts tend to feature less and less bifidobacteria as we age, so supplementing with a probiotic containing bifidobacteria cultures may help us maintain a strong immune system.
Much of this is theoretical, but it is an interesting line of thought and some leading researchers believe a “cure” for celiac disease or other autoimmune diseases may come in the form of some kind of potent, custom probiotic therapy.