I scoffed a little bit when I saw this new study. How could the month you’re born factor into whether you get celiac disease? But then I read deeper and found the research intriguing as it looked at the elements that could set off celiac disease.

The new study by the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children  and published at USNews.com found there was a higher rate of celiac when combining seasonal and environmental factors.

The Months Linked to Celiac

Researchers looked at data on children diagnosed with celiac between the ages of 11 months and 19 years old.  They divided the ages into two groups:  15-19 year olds and children younger than 15.  They said the birth month was no factor in the 15-19 year olds.

But for the under 15 set,

“57% were born in the ‘light’ season of March through August, compared with 43% who were born in the ‘dark’ season of September through February.”

For the record I was still scoffing a little here.  After all, my daughter was a January baby.  She was showing obvious celiac symptoms from 12 months to 15 months old.  Then she was finally diagnosed with celiac.

Possible X Factor: Environmental Triggers

The research went on to list potential triggers:

  1. timing of when gluten is introduced in food to infants
  2. viral infections contracted during the first year of life

“The researchers pointed out that infants are generally introduced to solid foods containing gluten at around 6 months of age, which for spring and summer babies would coincide with cold and flu season,” the article said.

“Based on the findings, the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Pornthep Tanpowpong, said that the age at which gluten is first offered may need to be altered.”

This research is only considered preliminary because the size of the sample was small (382 subjects).  Dr. Tanpowpong admits they need to “further develop and test [their] hypothosis.”

Conclusion:

I found the environmental triggers portion interesting.  While I am not really sold on the birth month idea, Emma did get a virus around her first birthday and had it for months. I am sure it weakened her immune system and triggered the celiac.

The idea of environmental triggers being a factor has been gaining steam.  Last January, research discussed timing of introducing solids could impact celiac disease.

But here is my question/statement: I would presume that even if you followed these ideas to a T (delayed giving gluten even longer than 6 months), there’s no guarantee your child won’t ever get celiac disease.  If you have the gene you’ll always have the chance. So they could get it at the age of 20, 35 or 50.  Right?

Celiac is a tricky beast.  I personally think doing something like changing feeding habits, as suggested here, would just likely delay the inevitable.

Or should I just chalk this up to research that adds one more piece to the puzzle to help figure out and prevent celiac?

Am I overreacting or overthinking it? Love to hear your feedback!

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