pregnancyLet’s face it. The Miracle of Birth, really is ….amazing.  So many things happen in the mother’s womb to create the fabulous little baby in about 40 weeks’ time (I know, by the time you hit about 30 weeks you feel like you have been pregnant forever).  

Because of that, we have been cautioned on limiting caffeine, nixing alcohol and cigarettes, getting folic acid.

Researchers explored whether taking antibiotics during pregnancy alters the child’s gut microbiota (microorganisms that live in the gut) and subsequently increase the risk in celiac in our children?  The results were published in BMC Gastroenterology this week.

Can Antibiotics during Pregnancy Cause Celiac in our Kids?

The study says,

“It is well-established that the postnatal intestinal microbiota influences the maturation of the intestinal immune system and that individuals with CD, or with an increased genetic risk of developing CD, have an imbalanced intestinal microbiota [aka intestinal dysbiosis], which may potentially enhance the inflammatory response elicited by gluten.”

 The report says animal studies suggest when there is intestinal dysbiosis, celiac could be triggered when gluten is added.

Swedish researchers  used the All Babies in Southeast Sweden cohort study where thousands of families enrolled between 1997 and 1999 to investigate health problems like autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.  

Researchers used the records of children diagnosed with celiac through 2006.  Mothers were asked about whether they used antibiotics during pregnancy and if so, what the name of the antibiotic was.

What they found was of the 8729 children in the study, 1836 were exposed to antibiotics, but the type of antibiotic listed was only for 235 children.  Most of the mothers took penicillin V.   By December 1, 2006, 46 of 8729 children were diagnosed with celiac.   12 of them were exposed to antibiotics. And excluding children with first-degree relatives that had autoimmune disease, including celiac, after the research concluded, only 9 had celiac. 

So does using antibiotics during pregnancy cause celiac?  Doctors concluded that antibiotic use was not significantly associated with celiac in offspring. 

However, questions remain: Does the timing of when the antibiotics are taken during pregnancy influence the gut microbiota? What about the type of antibiotic or the dosage?  And perhaps just as importantly, what was the reason they were taking the antibiotics?  Maybe that could also “influence fetal immune programming and risk of autoimmune disease in the offspring,” the report says.

The report also acknowledges, “our results do not refute the hypothesis that the early intestinal microbiota affects celiac development.”  

What can a mom do?

Well the report doesn’t really answer what moms can do to lower risk of giving their kids celiac.  In fact it didn’t clearly come out and say whether the moms had celiac during the pregnancy.  But if you are pregnant and have celiac, you must be extremely diligent at maintaining your strict gluten-free diet.

After your baby is born, doctors suggest timing of gluten introduction may affect celiac development.  Research from Pediatrics last October said to start gradually introducing gluten starting at 4 months old, preferably while still breastfeeding.

 But in general, from the results in this study, you shouldn’t be concerned with taking antibiotics if you need them during pregnancy.

 If you have concerns about this topic and how it relates to you, please contact your medical provider.

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, please refer to your doctor with questions regarding celiac, gluten sensitivity in your family.

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