Mom's Celiac Disease Likely Won't Cause Problems for Baby

Celiac disease was not associated with major increase risk for pregnancy complications

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Having a chronic disease can complicate a pregnancy. A recent study looked at mothers-to-be with celiac disease to see if it raised the risk of pregnancy or birth complications.

This recent study found that women with celiac disease (CD) did not have an increased risk for major complications in pregnancy or unfavorable birth outcomes.

"See an obstetrician early to start prenatal care."

The study was written by Alyshah Abdul Sultan, PhD, from the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Nottingham in the UK, and colleagues.

The research team reviewed medical records of women in the UK who were pregnant with a single fetus between 1997 and 2012. The women were between the ages of 15 and 44 years old. Nearly 364,000 pregnancies resulted in a live birth or stillbirth during the study period.

The study authors reviewed medical records to determine which women had been diagnosed with CD.

CD is a digestive disorder where the lining of the intestine is damaged by an immune reaction to eating gluten, which is contained in wheat and some other grains.

In CD patients, damage to the intestine prevents proper absorption of nutrients from food. The effect of a mother's CD on pregnancy and birth outcomes had not been well studied, the study authors noted.

The researchers noted whether the women had pregnancy complications, including hemorrhage (excessive bleeding) and preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine).

The research team also collected information on the outcomes of the pregnancies, such as premature births, low birth weights and stillbirths.

They also recorded the mode of delivery — vaginal, cesarean or assisted delivery. Assisted deliveries are births that require medical instruments to safely deliver the baby.

Of the 363,930 pregnancies in the study, 892 were in women with CD.

The results showed that women with CD had 3.5 percent greater excess risk of hemorrhage after childbirth compared to women without the disease.

There also was an increase in assisted deliveries in women with CD. About 15 percent of women with CD had assisted deliveries, compared to 12 percent without CD.

The researchers found no difference in the risk of preeclampsia or hemorrhage before vaginal delivery or cesarean deliveries.

There was no increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight or stillbirths in the women with CD. The study authors found no difference in birth weights of babies born to these two groups of women.

Both women without CD and those diagnosed with CD after delivery had a similar risk of hemorrhage, preeclampsia, premature births, assisted deliveries or cesarean deliveries.

The study did not capture information on the severity of the women’s CD. The researchers also did not know whether the women with CD followed a gluten-free diet and how this may have affected the study results.

The authors recognized an assisted delivery may have increased the chance of bleeding in the group of women with CD, compared to those who had vaginal deliveries. Since more women with CD had assisted deliveries, this — not necessarily the CD — may have contributed to the increase in bleeding.

Although the reasons for the slightly higher risk of hemorrhage after delivery in women with CD were unknown, the authors noted that, “Overall, our results should be reassuring to both women and practitioners."

This study was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

CORE/Coeliac UK funded the study. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 21, 2014
Last Updated:
August 25, 2014