There is a connection to infertility when you have coeliac disease according to a lot of doctors and online sources but no one seems to know why. Perhaps it is the lack of vitamins and minerals you’re body is able to absorb because gluten is blocking the way or maybe there is something in gluten that helps you conceive or maybe it is just added stress and pressures of today. Maybe we are all waiting too long to have children and it’s our age that’s the problem or maybe its chemical toxins and pollutants in our air and food nowadays? Who knows? Even the doctors are still researching this!
Interestingly, infertility is also connected to other autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which I have, and also makes it harder for people to conceive and carry. I am not pregnant yet but we are thinking in the next few years of starting a family so I have gradually been researching on this topic. Generally I’ve learned that a healthy diet is essential and making sure you have enough varied fruits and vegetables, minerals, vitamins, Folic Acid and good fats are important. If you’re coeliac then it’s vital you steer clear of gluten products and it’s advisable to liaise with a nutritionist to make sure you are getting enough calories. Also for those who are gluten sensitive it might be an idea to avoid gluten products for the whole of the pregnancy as new research has shown links to mental illness risks in children whose gluten sensitive mothers ate gluten during their pregnancies. However, this is still being researched and discussed but may be something to consider. Other than that there isn’t really anything particular you need to do or eat. It is safe for you to continue eating a gluten free diet and for those who are on a paleo diet you might need to watch your meat intake and up the carbs more. Some people found that they became coeliac after giving birth and the link to pregnancy as a coeliac ‘trigger’ is still being debated. We know that coeliac disease is genetic but can also be ‘triggered’ by stressful and emotional events and pregnancy could be a ‘trigger’ so can’t be ruled out yet. We’ll have to wait for more research evidence to be sure. In general and for other autoimmune diseases you should regularly be checked and looked after by your doctor for the said autoimmune disease and gynecologist and make sure that information is shared between them both so they can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. According to my endocrinologist regular blood work will have to be carried out and possibly more often than for a woman who doesn’t have an autoimmune disease just to monitor your progress. If you are struggling to conceive it is worth asking for blood tests to be done to check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and to see if gluten isn’t sneaking back into your diet somehow. If you think you may be developing coeliac disease during your pregnancy or shortly after giving birth it is best to consult a doctor specializing in Autoimmune Diseases. My good friend Jess, who has just had a baby girl, also told me to remember it can take a while and you just need to relax and not worry. Psychology plays a large role and the more pressure you put on yourself the less likely you will conceive and I think that is very good advice!
I’ve collected some videos and medical sources on the subject coeliac disease and pregnancy that I found interesting and insightful to help you prepare and understand more and for just general reading around the topic of coeliac disease and health. If you are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or know of someone who might find this interesting please share and pass it on!
I hope you find it useful, do let me know your thoughts and feel feel to share your experience and tips here in the comments section below!
How Celiac disease is linked to infertility, Jefferson Uni Hospital, Dr. DiMarino
Autoimmune disease and recurrent pregnancy loss, Braverman Reproductive Immunology
Gluten and pregnancy and the risk of mental health issues, Health Now Medical Center, Dr. Vikki Petersen
Paleo Diet and pregnancy, Robb Wolf
Many of the articles below also include more links to debates and topics around coeliac disease and pregnancy so feel free to go further in your research and explore!
Maternal gluten sensitivity linked to Schizophrenia risk in children, Karolinska Institutet medical university Sweden, Dr Håkan Karlsson
Can pregnancy trigger coeliac disease? About.com, MD Jane Anderson
Coeliac Society UK: diet tips for pregnancy
Infertility and coeliac disease: pubmed.gov US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
Pregnancy and Celiac Disease, everything you need to know from conception to birth, Amy Burkhart, MD, RD
Diet and Nutrition for coeliac disease and pregnancy, Today’s Dietician: David Yeager
Gluten-free diet and pregnancy advice, Glutafin UK
Nutrition advice for pregnancy in general, Nutritionist Resource UK
Managing a gluten-free pregnancy (free sample menu), pregnancy.org
Gluten Free Girl’s experience on gluten free pregnancy, Shauna
Paleo Diet and pregnancy, Mark Sisson
There aren’t any books yet that I’ve come across that are purely written for coeliac disease patients during pregnancy nor have I seen chapters covering coeliac disease and pregnancy but the following books are all-round good info books that have been highly recommended and ranked on Amazon. (affiliate links)
What to expect when you’re expecting, Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel (2009)