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Are You Putting Your Unborn Baby At Risk By Eating Gluten?

Choices during pregnancy impact a lifetime.

Choices during pregnancy impact a lifetime

If you’re pregnant you’ll know how important it is to be proactive about your health, diet, and nutritional supplementation while you’re expecting. However, did you also know that the choices you make during pregnancy – good or bad – can impact your baby and persist over the course of their lifetime? One of the choices that can potentially pose a great risk to your unborn child is whether or not you consume gluten.

Gluten in pregnancy

If you are gluten intolerant and continue to eat gluten, this can lead to significant immune activation in your body. This includes the production of pathogenic autoimmune antibodies, immunoglobulin IgG and inflammatory cytokines. When you’re pregnant, all of these can cross the placenta and interfere with the neurodevelopment of your baby.

Why should I get tested for gluten intolerance before or during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your immune system and your unborn baby’s immune system are connected and constantly communicating via the placenta. If you are gluten intolerant and have pathogenic autoimmune antibodies, immune activation, and increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, this can negatively impact your baby’s developing brain. These autoimmune antibodies can begin to be transferred as early as weeks four to six in pregnancy and continue until birth.

What risk does eating gluten pose to my baby if I am gluten intolerant?

In the foetus, the developing immune system and central nervous system are extremely sensitive. If your baby is exposed to autoimmune antibodies this can cause immune dysregulation.  Researchers are demonstrating that immune dysregulation in the early developing brain may play a role in neurodevelopment disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and schizophrenia. We know that women with the autoimmune disease Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) have an increased risk of having children with learning disabilities due to the autoantibodies and immunoglobulin IgG crossing the placenta into the developing brain of the baby.

Immune activation in the mother while pregnant, may also contribute to an increased risk of autoimmune diseases and allergies later in life in her child.  Read more about gluten intolerance and the risk of autoimmune disease.

This is an interesting research paper on maternal autoimmune antibodies during pregnancy, with a diagram demonstrating how these antibodies cross the placenta. Maternal Autoantibodies in Autism by Braunschweig and Van der Water, Arch Neurol. 2012;69(6):693-699. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2011.2506

Will it be okay if I just go gluten free?

Not quite. Firstly, you may not be gluten intolerant and therefore may not need to remove gluten from your diet. Secondly, gluten intolerance mutations entail more than just removing gluten, they also have a significant impact on gut microbiome that must be addressed and cannot be addressed just by removing gluten. Read about our Gut + Immune Rebalancing Program and Children’s Food Intolerances, Allergies and Skin Program

What should I do?

If you are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, we strongly recommend that you get screened for gluten intolerance as soon as possible. The best way to find out if you are gluten intolerant is to be screened genetically for gluten intolerance mutations. At iDNA Health we screen more extensively for these mutations than anyone else. It’s quick, easy and accurate.

Contact us now to get started and be screened for Gluten intolerance.

Or to find out more about the testing, you can read our blog on Gluten Intolerance Genetic Testing.