Most of the time doctors don’t know how celiac develops in one person versus another or why celiac develops at a particular time in someone’s life. With 40% of the population that carry the genetic markers, what makes those of us that have it so special?
That is what researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are trying to decide. They are looking for 500 children either in the womb or under 6 months of age with a first degree relative with biopsy-confirmed celiac disease for a research study. This is not something that involves medicine, but just an observational study.
They will monitor these children every 6 months to take blood samples and stool samples until the children are 5 years old. They may not need a blood sample every six months, you will have to look specifically at the protocol to know what is required.
The best part is, the study can be done anywhere in the United States. Participants do not have to go to Massachusetts to complete the study. Scientists will coordinate with your pediatrician or the parents to collect the proper samples.
The scientists are looking at the microbiome to see if they can find signals within the microbiome of the precursors of celiac disease.
Much of the research on children and the development of celiac is contradictory. Some studies say breast feeding, delaying introduction of gluten until after 6 months, and a vaginal delivery are protective against the development of celiac disease in genetically prone individuals. Other studies say none of those things are true. So, the science is undecided on what genetic factors are causing celiac.
Because the microbiome is so elastic – it changes slightly with every meal you consume – it is a great snapshot of a person’s health and nutritional status at any given time. The theory is that if a child develops celiac over the course of their first five years, researchers can go back to evaluate their microbiome to see if there are markers or indicators that celiac disease was starting.
As I was talking about clinical trials yesterday, this is a great one to consider for a child. It doesn’t involve a medicine, just watching someone grow and change.
Here is a link to the study for those that may qualify. Also, results of this study may begin to seep out shortly.