Celiac Disease, Infertility and Pregnancy Loss

 

The far-reaching effects of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease never cease to amaze me. So many conditions outside the gut are triggered by a reaction against gluten inside the gut. A recent study has brought to light one lesser-known effect of celiac disease—infertility.

It has been known for some time now that infertility and recurrent spontaneous abortion is more common among women with celiac disease. And about 4 percent of infertile women have celiac disease!  I wonder how many more of these women may have silent celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity? A large proportion of people with celiac disease are undiagnosed.

A recent study has looked a little closer at infertility and early pregnancy loss, and determined just how this may happen. It turns out that anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (which are antibodies that the immune system makes against gliadin, the gluten protein) bind to the developing placental lining. This can interfere with proper development of the placenta and fetus.

It is already known that these anti-tTG antibodies can attack other tissues in the body, like the thyroid, pancreatic beta cells or even brain cells. This phenomenon is known as autoimmunity. This study highlights yet one more way in which anti-gliadin antibodies can harm areas of the body that are not in the gut. And it strengthens the evidence that following a gluten free diet can benefit the entire body.

If you suspect you are gluten sensitive, you may want to be tested or try an elimination diet for a few months to see if it helps you.

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