Babies born to mothers with undiagnosed celiac disease at risk for low birth weight

By Jason Clevenger

Summary: A group of Dutch researchers reported the results of a large-scale population study to determine if undiagnosed celiac disease has an effect on birth weight. Anti-TTG antibody tests were performed on more than 7,000 available blood samples and were separated into “negative,” “intermediate” and “positive” levels. Those in the “positive” category were considered the most likely candidates for celiac disease diagnosis. Genetic testing was also performed on the blood samples, with the vast majority (93 percent) of subjects in the “positive” category being carriers of the HLA-DQ2 or –DQ8 gene associated with the potential to develop celiac disease. Overall, subjects in the “positive” category gave birth to infants with an average birth weight almost 6 ounces less than infants in the “negative” category.

Conclusion: Although only 0.5 percent of the subjects in the study were considered likely to have undiagnosed celiac disease due to high antibody levels, this group had consistently lower birth weight than subjects with low or intermediate antibody levels that could not be explained by the mother’s nutritional status. The authors suggest that celiac disease testing for pregnant mothers should be considered.


[1] “Levels of Antibodies Against Tissue Transglutaminase During Pregnancy Are Associated With Reduced Fetal Weight and Birth Weight.”, Kiefte-de Jong JC, Jaddoe VW, Uitterlinden AG, Steegers EA, Willemsen SP, Hofman A, Hooijkaas H, Moll HA, Gastroenterology 2013 Jan 9 [Epub ahead of print].

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