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We're pretty sure that our 2 month old baby suffers from a gluten intolerance but when we spoke to our doctor she claimed that it was impossible for babies to get gluten from the mother's breast milk. However the midwife did believe it was possible for babies to suffer from gluten intolerance from breast milk.

So are there any studies that show that gluten will pass through into the breast milk?

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Welcome to the site! – balanced mama Jan 26 '13 at 19:31
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The first thing I would say is, What makes you think your baby has a Gluten Intolerance?

These symptoms listed as Symptoms of sensitivities to food/gluten in infants by The "Free From Gluten" (which is an online Gluten Free Grocery Store) are also symptoms for a host of other allergies/sensitivities as well:

  • Rashes (as well as diaper rash)
  • Hives
  • Asthma
  • Colic
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Itchy, red eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Acid Reflux
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Chronically spitting up
  • Failure to thrive
  • Sore bottom
  • Ear infections
  • Cold/flu like symptoms

My daughter had trouble with about six or seven of these (including GERD of which Chronically spitting up is a part) but has no problem with Wheat intolerance - she does, however, have a sensitivity to dairy.

A quick search on the internet will yield lots of resources containing the claim that Gluten shows up in milk, but they are often sites like this, where the creators are wanting to sell Gluten free products, or they are chat fora with unsubstantiated claims. What I read that did site any source for the claims at all often referred to This article, which does say that Gliadin, a component of Gluten can show up in breast milk, but correlations between intake and presence of the gliadin were inconclusive (because no correlation was found which means the Gliadin might be there even if you don't eat Gluten). Additionally, some professionals hypothesize that early exposure to antigens for something some one may later develop a sensitivity to are proving to actually aid as a protective or preventative device to developing allergies.

Before you force such a drastic dietary restriction on both mother and child (Gluten is in almost everything processed - even many vitamin capsules contain it), I'd suggest re-examining the issue with your doctor (or get a second opinion), confirm a sensitivity to gluten rather than something else first. If your child is confirmed as having Celiac's (with the help of a professional) or a sensitivity, see a specialist about your child's diet.

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Thank you for the excellent answer. Our baby was suffering from cramps that got worse in the evening. We had been through most possibilities and got as far as that it seemed to be a digestive problem. So first my partner tried removing lactose but no change. Then she tried removing gluten as she has had problems with gluten in the past. This stopped the cramps and reintroducing gluten brought the cramps back. Once again stopping gluten has stopped the cramps. I'll keep researching to see if it isn't, it may be something else. But at least it could be so it's not a total waste of time. – icc97 Jan 26 '13 at 21:36
The usual digestive issue for babies is MSPI since the milk and soy proteins do pass through breastmilk. MSPI is radically different than lactose intolerance. Did your partner remove all milk and soy proteins? Did a doctor suggest this course of action? Even run-of-the-mill colic is now believed to be a digestive issue according to our pediatrician. It's really hard to figure it all out before baby's little digestive systems mature at 3-4 months! – justkt Aug 6 '13 at 12:50

There are actual clinical studies that prove Gliadin, the protein from gluten, does pass through breastmilk (also here). My baby has gluten intolerance and me being gluten free has kept her symptoms away. Her pediatrician thinks she may have celiac disease. She had terrible stomach cramps and also severe diarrhea (10 times a day). We tested it multiple times with me on a total elimination diet and only introducing either dairy or wheat months apart. She had reactions to both but very different reactions

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Hi Beth, and welcome to the site! Any chance you could find a link to one of those studies? It would be great if we could add a link to some research into your answer. – Beofett Aug 5 '13 at 2:19
@Beofett balancedmama above did already provide a link to a study on Gliadin: – icc97 Aug 5 '13 at 7:07
Beth, @balancedmama 's answer suggests that although there is Gliadin passed through in breast milk the amout of gluten the mother ate didn't seem to make a difference. However our personal findings were exactly as yours - if my partner stopped eating gluten the cramps stopped and the crying got much better. Re-introducing gluten brought the cramps back and stoppping gluten once again stopped the cramps. We found no difference with dairy. – icc97 Aug 5 '13 at 7:12
@Beofett here's one more study on Gliadin: – icc97 Aug 5 '13 at 7:31
@icc97 Thanks, I've added those references to Beth's answer. – Beofett Aug 5 '13 at 12:08

I would say yes. My daughter has had several occurrences of mysterious rashes that correlate to certain foods that my wife was eating (nightshades, citrus) and when those were cut out, the rashes went away.

Just yesterday, my wife had something with lemon juice in it, and my daughter broke out in a huge rash.

Some medical professionals will look at you like you're crazy, but I'm looking at a reaction to something and we're pretty strict about her food intake.

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Gluten absolutely passes through breast milk. Many doctors and the medical community at large are not up on what gluten is and how it affects us all. After thousands of dollars and allergists and gastroenterologists in a 60mi radius from our house a naturopath suggested gluten and dairy free for my mom diet to help my 8 mo old. It worked like a charm. And although the diet is complicated it didn't mirror the anguish I felt as a mom trying to help a helpless child that could not communicate how she felt. I had to just watch the list of ailments and try and self diagnose. Gluten free was a miracle in our house.

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