Disclaimer: This is an educational and informative post, nothing in it is meant to take the place of medical treatment, neither does it claim to treat, cure or diagnose any condition.
If a baby is born with the genetic markers for Celiac, they have a higher risk of developing Celiac disease, however, It does not mean they will. About 30% of the population are born with the genetics but only about 3% develop the disease. It can be triggered at any age.
Celiac Disease can develop in babies from about 6 months and up, normally when wheat or other gluten containing foods are introduced. A baby might start to show symptoms, some of which could be:
- swollen tummy
- inability to be soothed
- failure to thrive (weight gain and growing/missing milestones)
This could indicate the genes have been activated and it’s imperative a pediatrician is seen right away who will advise further.
Blood tests can be tricky under the age of 4 because the child’s immune system is not fully developed. Therefore Genetic testing can help in this instance.
Note for Parents who have a diagnosed child:
ALL your children should be monitored and tested every two years. Genetic testing is the best place to start to see if you need to do so. Celiac risk is higher in immediate family members. If your child has Celiac, they got the genes from either one or both of their parents. You carry the genetics to have passed it on to your child. But yours may not be triggered. Monitor and test yourselves too.
Current guidelines state that there should be progressive introduction to solid foods, including all common allergenic solids( including wheat/gluten) during the first year of life, according to the infant’s ability to chew, keep their head still and sit propped up, and familial or cultural habits, beginning at around six months but not before four months of age, possibly without discontinuing breastfeeding. [source: mdpi.com/1648-9144/55/7/323]
Did you know there are possible risk factors that contribute besides having the genetics for Celiac?
A mother’s own gut health plays a crucial part. Her gut health determines to a large degree her baby’s gut health. A baby inherits it’s first microbiota from it’s mother at birth.[source: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/11/3427]
What a mother eats or doesn’t eat also plays a role [source: Live science]
The way the baby is born also determines the amount and type of bacteria it inherits. Babies born via vaginal birth have been shown to have a more diverse microbiota than babies born via Caesarian section.[ source:PMCID: PMC4566439] [source; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20133091/
Another fact is that the gut microbiome is influenced by many external factors such as environment, genetics, type of food, medication, whether the baby is breastfed or bottle fed and many other factors. By the time a child is 3, they have developed their gut microbiome which is an ever changing environment as we grow.
A woman looking at becoming a mother can do much to protect her future child or unborn child from triggering this genetic condition by starting with her own health. Getting a DNA test will be a good starting point.
Once your child is born you can also get their genetic test to see if they carry the Celiac genes. Celiac Disease needs to be triggered and can only do so when gluten is introduced. That is why a baby is not born with Celiac (only the predisposed risk if they carry the genetics) and can only develop Celiac once solid food with gluten is introduced. It is also not to say they will develop, as only a small fraction of those who carry the genetics go on to develop the disease.