Communications Manager, Celiac Disease Foundation
The microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms living in the human digestive tract. Because the microbiome of babies is immature and still developing, the environment can significantly impact the health of and the degree of inflammation in a baby’s microbiome. The good news is that there are things we can do to encourage health-promoting bacteria in the microbiome.
According to the Celiac Disease Genomic Environmental Microbiome and Metabolic (CDGEMM) Study, infants exposed to environmental disturbances (born by C-section, fed formula, or given antibiotics during their first six months of life) developed a microbiome more likely to promote inflammation compared to that of children with a genetic risk of celiac disease who were born naturally, exclusively breastfed, and not exposed to antibiotics. In theory, maintaining a healthy microbiome in children at risk could prevent celiac disease.
Another important result that came from this study so far was the discovery that having two copies of the HLA-DQ2 gene altered the metabolism of the microbiome significantly in the infants studied. The babies with two copies of HLA-DQ2 were more vulnerable to gut disease. Researching the environmental and genetic factors involved in the development of celiac disease could help diagnose celiac disease earlier and prevent significant damage from gluten in patients. This, in turn, would reduce the likelihood of celiac disease-related comorbidities.
The purpose of the CDGEMM study is to discover correlations between the health state of the microbiome and a child’s susceptibility to autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. This is the first large study to track at-risk children from the time they are in utero or are born to the introduction of solid foods, and through their potential celiac disease diagnosis.
To learn more about how CDGEMM is exploring the impact of environmental and genetic factors on celiac disease, click here.