Scientists say: schedule gluten, save babies.

Hey new moms and moms-to-be, great news! Scientists have pinpointed the precise moment in your baby’s life when it’s acceptable to introduce gluten to his or her diet.

As long as you administer just the right dose of gluten no earlier or later than 3:42:18 a.m. exactly 126 days after your baby is born, he/she can’t possibly get celiac disease. (We don’t know yet about gluten sensitivity, sorry.) On the other hand, if you jump the gun or miss your cue, Baby is almost guaranteed to develop an autoimmune response to gluten, so get it right.

Don't mess up, now. Photo © Donnie Ray Jones | Flickr

Don’t mess up, now.
Photo © Donnie Ray Jones | Flickr

Sure, feeding gluten at that time goes against the World Health Organization (WHO)’s suggestion to breastfeed exclusively for six months to protect against gastrointestinal infections, decrease your baby’s chances of becoming obese, increase your baby’s likelihood of school success, and reduce your own risk of ovarian and breast cancer. But WHO are they to tell you what to do? You need to look at the big picture, and introduce gluten while you still can!

Oh, and should you follow the WHO’s other recommendation to continue to breastfeed for up to two years, then you’ll really seal the deal: the study demonstrates that babies who still latch on at age one may also be more likely to come down with a case of the celiac. Bummer!

The point I’m making, ladies, is that it’s up to you to prevent the spread of this celiac epidemic. So whatever you do, don’t focus on what seems right for your child’s and your own individual well-being. Your son wants to gum on a crust before the precise moment when it’s acceptable for him to do so? Tell him no! It’s how kids learn. Your eleven-month-old daughter still thinks breast is best? Wean her fast! Keep in mind that mother knows best, except when science does.

It’s too late to avoid passing your child the celiac genes. But you can make it right by timing it right. When it comes to introducing gluten, you must delay, delay, delay, and then ACT FAST. Keep that bread box stocked, and don’t be caught sleeping at the appointed time. In fact, set your alarm now.

Don't let Baby be caught sleeping, either. Photo © Yoshihide Nomura | Flickr

Don’t let Baby be caught sleeping, either.
Photo © Yoshihide Nomura | Flickr

The fate of your child is in your hands (and breasts). Celiac disease prevalence is increasing, and it seems mothers are to blame. Don’t become part of the problem.

If today marks day 127 of Baby’s life, then sorry, you’ve already flubbed it. You can always try again on your next child; science is all about learning from mistakes. Then again, having a sib with celiac disease will pretty much doom any future offspring, too, so you’d better not worry about it too much. After all, when it comes to ruining Baby’s life, getting stressed out is another surefire way.

For more totally-not-overstated headlines about the latest too-small-sample-sized study of a possible celiac risk factor by not-even-completely-convinced-themselves researchers, check out:

I’m glad research on causes of celiac disease continues. Still, I think sometimes we get so excited that science is paying attention to us that we give studies more weight than they deserve (even more than the researchers tell us to give them).

Confusing, isn't it? Photo © Alpha | Flickr

Confusing, isn’t it?
Photo © Alpha | Flickr

This was the latest in a patchwork of conflicting, insufficient studies on celiac disease triggers (and on breastfeeding). Most of the articles do include cautions about study limitations and conflicting existing research. But the headlines are pure mommy (sorry, “parent”) guilt.

Don’t you just love journalism?

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8 thoughts on “Scientists say: schedule gluten, save babies.

  1. Laurie C says:

    This guilt-inducing post made me want to pull out and dust off the baby books to see when the first wheat food was introduced into the diet of each child. I agree with the guy quoted in one of the articles, though, who said, basically, if you’ve got the gene for celiac, nothing else makes a difference!

  2. Molly, this post really hit home for me (with both humor and seriousness!). At first I actually thought you were serious – and I was like, great, another article about how I missed my mark for my toddler son – and then of course I read on and was relieved that you were lampooning all this crap. Like we moms don’t have enough pressure to be perfect and not screw up our kids, then they go and put the whole “maybe you gave your kid celiac” BS. Thanks so much for bringing clear eyes and wisdom to the fact that we probably shouldn’t read these studies as absolute FACT. The truth is, with all the conflicting info out there from the BIG celiac centers, it’s clear that doctors actually don’t know everything about this disease. My son is nearly 2 and I don’t know if he has celiac like my daughter, and I am not going to stress out that I’m contributing to the possibility.
    -Dana

    • Molly says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it (and sorry to give you a scare at the beginning). I’m obviously happy that research is going on, but so much of this stuff almost seems INTENDED to stress moms out. Most moms who are reading this and getting stressed are probably concerned moms who care about their kids, though, which IMO is more important than when they first feed their kids bread! I’m not yet a mom myself but I find the endless rules and studies annoying on behalf of all my fellow women.

  3. […] the inevitable or go hunting for reasons why you can’t eat gluten (like birth month or breastfeeding…sorry again, Mom). But accepting it’s meant to be doesn’t stop you from aspiring to […]

  4. […] early OR late gluten introduction by parents (which I have complained about before) […]

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