Higher consumption of gluten -- proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley -- by women during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of Type-1 diabetes in children, a study has claimed.
The findings, led by Julie Antvorskov from the Bartholin Institute in Denmark, showed that children of women with an intake of 20g per day or more gluten had double the risk of developing Type-1 diabetes, compared to those with less than 7g per day.
The risk increased proportionally with the mother's gluten intake of 10g per day during pregnancy.
Animal studies revealed that a gluten-free diet during pregnancy almost completely prevented Type-1 diabetes in their offspring.
Doctors as well as public "should be aware of the possibility that consuming large amounts of gluten might be associated with an increased risk for the child to develop Type-1 diabetes," the researchers stated.
In the study, published in the journal BMJ, the team analysed 63,529 pregnant women to examine whether gluten intake during pregnancy is associated with subsequent risk of Type-1 diabetes in children.
Even after considering potentially influential factors such as mother's age, weight (BMI), total energy intake, and smoking during pregnancy, 247 cases of Type-1 diabetes were identified (a rate of 0.37 per cent).
However, it is too early to change dietary recommendations on gluten intake in pregnancy, the researchers said, suggesting the need to identify whether the proposed association is really driven by gluten or by something else in the grains or the diet.