Objective To examine the association between prenatal gluten exposure and offspring risk of type 1 diabetes in humans.
Design National prospective cohort study.
Setting National health information registries in Denmark.
Participants Pregnant Danish women enrolled into the Danish National Birth Cohort, between January 1996 and October 2002,
Main outcome measures Maternal gluten intake, based on maternal consumption of gluten containing foods, was reported in a 360 item food frequency questionnaire at week 25 of pregnancy. Information on type 1 diabetes occurrence in the participants’ children, from 1 January 1996 to 31 May 2016, were obtained through registry linkage to the Danish Registry of Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes.
Results The study comprised 101 042 pregnancies in 91 745 women, of whom 70 188 filled out the food frequency questionnaire. After correcting for multiple pregnancies, pregnancies ending in abortions, stillbirths, lack of information regarding the pregnancy, and pregnancies with implausibly high or low energy intake, 67 565 pregnancies (63 529 women) were included. The average gluten intake was 13.0 g/day, ranging from less than 7 g/day to more than 20 g/day. The incidence of type 1 diabetes among children in the cohort was 0.37% (n=247) with a mean follow-up period of 15.6 years (standard deviation 1.4). Risk of type 1 diabetes in offspring increased proportionally with maternal gluten intake during pregnancy (adjusted hazard ratio 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.001 to 1.72) per 10 g/day increase of gluten). Women with the highest gluten intake versus those with the lowest gluten intake (≥20 v <7 g/day) had double the risk of type 1 diabetes development in their offspring (adjusted hazard ratio 2.00 (95% confidence interval 1.02 to 4.00)).
Conclusions High gluten intake by mothers during pregnancy could increase the risk of their children developing type 1 diabetes. However, confirmation of these findings are warranted, preferably in an intervention setting.
Reference: BMJ 2018;362:k3547