How to achieve a healthy pregnancy with celiac disease

More than ever, evidence is piling up that indicates celiac disease may be linked to higher chances of pregnancy-related complications.

In a study published by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, women who had been diagnosed with celiac disease through a biopsy were compared with a control group made up of women without the disease. The groups filled out an online questionnaire about reproductive health such as the age menstruation began for them and the number of pregnancies they experienced, as well as birth details for babies delivered. The study found that about half of the pregnancies recorded by women who had celiac disease ended in miscarriage.

While celiac disease has, in the past, been linked to pregnancy complications, it’s never been to the level recorded in this research paper. One of the potential reasons for the high-risk pregnancy complications is that patients with celiac disease are found to have deficiencies in both vitamins and essential elements like zinc, selenium, iron and folate.

The rate of celiac disease seems to have increased over the last 10 years, and although the mechanism is poorly understood, certainly we are seeing more patients experiencing a gluten sensitivity in their daily diets. It is stipulated that perhaps this increased gluten sensitivity may be an autoimmune response – in other words, when your own immune system begins to create changes in your gut, making gluten — which are found in grains — difficult to absorb.

Now, the typical symptoms of celiac disease are bloating, gas pains, weight loss and irritable bowel. One of the proper ways to make the right diagnosis is of course by having a biopsy of the tissue. It is important to remember, that if you are diagnosed with celiac disease and are thinking about getting pregnant, to have a conversation with your doctor. A diagnosis may not only mean that you need to go on a gluten-free diet, but also that you may need to supplement some of the essential vitamins and minerals I mentioned above, so that you can minimize the risk of a complicated pregnancy or miscarriage.