Infant Formula and Celiac Disease


The last thing a parent wants is for their child to be stricken with any type of disease. If it does happen, the only thing to do is have courage and adapt. For some infants, celiac disease can start early in life, while for others it may develop later in infancy or even early childhood. Regardless of when it develops, there are ways parents can help manage the side effects and prevent serious reactions as their child grows. For infants who suffer from celiac disease, close attention to their diet is critical. Mommy Formula has put together some information regarding European infant formula and how it affects infants who are suffering from celiac disease.

What is Celiac Disease?

There are many types of autoimmune diseases, and Celiac disease is one of them. This ailment is triggered by gluten which is a common protein found in grain. When the immune system encounters gluten in the small intestine, it triggers inflammation. If left untreated, the inflammation will become chronic and damage the small intestine. This part of the digestive system is crucial for nutrition absorption, if damaged enough, it will prevent absorption which can lead to many other serious health complications.

Does Infant Formula Cause Celiac Disease?

Although gluten will trigger an immune response in those who suffer from celiac disease, it is not directly caused by infant formula. A lot of misinformation was spread in the past claiming infants would develop Celiac disease if they consumed gluten before a certain age. According to research, however, this autoimmune disease is genetic, not age or ingredient based. The majority of those who suffer from Celiac disease have HLA DQ8 or HLA DQ2 genes, in some cases even both. These also happen to be the same genes that increase the odds of a person developing type 1 diabetes.

So, while infant formulas may contain gluten and trigger an immune response, they are not the cause of Celiac disease. If one or both parents have Celiac disease or HLA DQ8 or HLA DQ2 genes, there is a possibility that their child will develop Celiac disease.

Will Avoiding Gluten Prevent Celiac Disease In Infants?

Infants who are at risk of developing Celiac disease due to a genetic link have not been proven to be able to avoid the disease by not drinking infant formula. In fact. Some studies in the Journal of Pediatrics show that introducing gluten later in infancy or early childhood will increase the risk of the disease developing. There is no clear way to determine which infants will go on to develop the disease based on their diet alone. However, for infants who have developed the disease, it is important to monitor their diet and follow the advice of their doctor to ensure proper infant development.

Spotting Celiac Disease Treated in Infants

There is no cure for celiac disease, the condition can only be managed. In the majority of cases, the most effective way to manage the condition is by providing a diet that is gluten-free. Only a medical professional can determine if your child is suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Some common symptoms are;

  • Constant gas and bloating
  • Frequent bouts of constipation or diarrhea
  • Reflux 
  • Irritability after a bottle
  • Vomiting
  • Bowel movement that has very pungent odors 
  • Crankiness before and after meals
  • Poor appetite
  • Failure to thrive

If you think your little one may have a gluten intolerance or even celiac disease, it is important to have them diagnosed as soon as possible.

Diagnosing Celiac Disease in Babies

If your child’s doctor suspects gluten intolerance or celiac disease they will be referred to a specialist for a screening. This process involves a blood test to screen for the condition, however, it is not possible to diagnose it with a blood test alone. Depending on the results of the blood test, they may need to have an endoscopy performed for confirmation. 

This part of the procedure allows a sample of the intestinal lining to be taken in order to determine if villous atrophy is present. Infants who have villous atrophy in their intestine are positive for celiac disease. It is an invasive test and many symptoms of celiac may be a result of other conditions. This is one of the reasons it is important to speak with your doctor if you are concerned that your infant may be suffering from gluten intolerance.

Choosing The Right European Infant Formula For Infants With Celiac Disease

Most European infant formulas are gluten-free but are important to check the labels and ingredient list before your purchase. Some of the more popular European infant formulas that are gluten-free are:

  • Lebenswert Organic European Infant Formula
  • Hipp Special Comfort European Infant Formula
  • Hipp HA Combiotik European Infant Formula
  • Holle Goat Milk European Infant Formula
  • Hipp Bio European Infant Formula
  • Hipp Bio Kindermilch European Infant Formula
  • Holle Organic European Infant Formula
  • Hipp Anti Reflux European Infant Formula
  • Hipp Bio Combiotik European Infant Formula
  • Hipp Organic Good Night Milk European Infant Formula

If you are interested in other infant formulas from the EU, make sure to check the ingredient list or consult your pediatrician.

Growing Up Without Gluten

Thankfully, not only are most EU infant formulas gluten-free, but many of the same brands also offer infant and toddler feeding options for older babies. Living with celiac disease is difficult but manageable once you know what to look for. Infants who are on a diet that is free of gluten are able to benefit from the same nutrition as those who are on a regular diet. Feeding schedules, weaning, and the introduction of solids will also follow the same pattern as any other infant. 

The only difference is that parents will need to take special care in choosing which products to include in their child’s diet. Often, children who suffer from celiac disease will also find that they have a low tolerance for other foods and perhaps even various food allergies. However, as long as you avoid gluten, there is no reason not to experiment with different tastes, textures, and flavors as your child grows. If you need help or more information regarding gluten-free European infant formulas, we are always here to help.


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