Celiac disease prevention

Caroline Meijer, Raanan Shamir, Hania Szajewska, Luisa Mearin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Celiac disease (CD) is a common autoimmune disorder induced by ingestion of gluten in genetically susceptible individuals. Despite the prerequisite for a genetic predisposition, only a minority of the 40% of the Caucasian population that has this genetic predisposition develops the disease. Thus, environmental and/or lifestyle factors play a causal role in the development of CD. The incidence of CD has increased over the last half-century, resulting in rising interest in identifying risk factors for CD to enable primary prevention. Early infant feeding practices have been suggested as one of the factors influencing the risk of CD in genetically susceptible individuals. However, recent large prospective studies have shown that neither the timing of gluten introduction nor the duration or maintenance of breastfeeding influence the risk of CD. Also, other environmental influences have been investigated as potential risk factors, but have not led to primary prevention strategies. Secondary prevention is possible through early diagnosis and treatment. Since CD is significantly underdiagnosed and a large proportion of CD patients are asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis, secondary prevention will not identify all CD patients, as long as mass screening has not been introduced. As following a gluten-free diet is a major challenge, tertiary prevention strategies are discussed as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number368
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
StatePublished - 2018


  • Celiac disease
  • Environmental factors
  • Prevention
  • Preventive strategies
  • Tertiary prevention


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