Children with Celiac Disease Tolerate Two Oat Varieties

December 19, 2013

Are some oat varieties less immunogenic than others?

Whether or not celiacs should eat oats is still up for debate. Limited research indicates that celiacs can eat oats without any harm, so long as the oats are guaranteed uncontaminated with gluten. But a handful of in vitro studies suggest that oat varieties-potentially all of them-do cause an immune response. An Italian study on children with celiac disease, who had not previously consumed oats, adds to the discussion.

For 15 months, children consumed one of two diets: A or B. Each diet included 6 months of oat or placebo baked goods, followed by 3 months of their normal gluten-free diet, and another 6 months of either oat or placebo baked goods. All oats were considered “purified,” meaning they were uncontaminated with gluten.

To assess sensitivity of children to the oat products, researchers asked children about their digestive discomfort, using a gastrointestinal symptoms rate scale (GSRS). They also performed intestinal permeability test throughout the study-a popular method for measuring digestive injury.

Throughout the study and at 15 months, the two groups scored comparably. In an interview with Nutritional Outlook, lead researcher Simona Gatti of Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy, said the oat varieties used in the study were Avena sativa L. “Irina” and “Potenza.”

“In Italy, products containing gluten-uncontaminated oats are not currently available,” says Gatti. “This situation will hopefully change in the near future; rich in soluble dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, the inclusion of oats unquestionably improves the nutritional value and increases the palatability of the gluten-free diet, while expanding food choices and ultimately improving the quality of life for people with celiac disease.”

Gatti’s study is the first to utilize an intestinal permeability test on celiacs and prolonged oat consumption. The study is currently free for download at the journal Nutrients.

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