A systematic review and meta-analysis that compared the effect of breastfeeding on risk of coeliac disease (CD) was carried out as an update to a previous review. A systematic review of observational studies published between 1966 and May 2004 on the subject was previously reported. This update reviews observational studies published between June 2004 and April 2011.

Four observational studies met the criteria and were included. Two of three studies which had examined the duration of breastfeeding and CD reported significant associations between longer duration of breastfeeding and later onset of CD. Breastfeeding during the introduction of gluten to the infant was reported to have a protective effect in two studies.

The authors conclude that their findings support the previously published work that breastfeeding seems to offer a protection against the development of CD in predisposed infants. Breastfeeding at time of gluten introduction is the most significant variable in reducing the risk. Timing of gluten introduction may also be a factor in the development of CD.

Henriksson C, Bostrom A, Wiklund IE (2012). What effect does breastfeeding have on coeliac disease? A systematic review update. Evid. Based Med. published 4 August 2012, 10.1136/eb-2012-100607