Celiac disease is most likely to occur not only when the predisposition is more marked, but also if antibiotics or certain anti-acid drugs, proton pump inhibitors, have been taken for prolonged periods and especially in girls. On the other hand, its development seems to be clearly hindered in male children who, in addition to having a less acute genetic risk, take probiotics, have pets such as dogs and cats near them and have had viral infections. This is what emerges from a study conducted in Italy and the USA, which clarified how some environmental factors lower and others increase the chances of developing celiac disease in children predisposed to gluten intolerance. the research was presented at the National Congress of the Italian Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (Sigenp) underway in Matera.
It had long been known that a certain structure of the Hla system (a group of genes) was an almost necessary condition for the development of celiac disease. But it was not clear why the disease actually occurred in only 3% of subjects with this genetic defect. The study conducted in the USA, at Harvard, and in Italy in Rome, Milan, Ancona, Salerno, Bari, Bergamo, Genoa, Bologna, confirmed the links between the onset of celiac disease and certain environmental factors “which at this point are evident , but – comments Claudio Romano, president of Sigenp – they will need to be thoroughly investigated in other studies, to understand their nature and mechanisms. However, what emerged from this research is important because it provides indications that could help prevent or at least not favor the pathology”.
The study, promoted by Alessio Fasano of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston and coordinated in Italy by Francesco Valitutti, researcher in Pediatrics at the University of Perugia, has so far been conducted on 423 children (219 in the USA and 204 in our country), following them from birth to 7 years of age, analyzing 80 clinical factors identified by longitudinal questionnaires, filled out periodically by parents, relating to demographic data, medical history, environment and eating habits.
“The study – underlines Valitutti – fundamentally has two ambitious objectives: to identify non-invasive markers for a very early diagnosis of celiac disease; to intercept it before its full clinical development, with a view to its primary prevention, counteracting environmental risk factors and ensuring that immunological tolerance to gluten is not completely lost.”