Celiac disease is one of the most common autoimmune conditions. If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with celiac disease there are certain risks and preventative measures that you will want to be aware of to help better your health and the health of your baby. Having celiac disease doesn’t have to be a burden during pregnancy.
Celiac Disease While Pregnant
Women who suffer from celiac disease are at a higher risk for pregnancy problems and complications two to four times the rate of women who do not have the condition. Following a gluten free diet during pregnancy can help lower your risk for some of these problems.
Celiac disease can cause folic acid, selenium, and zinc deficiency, which are all important nutrients for pregnancy.
Research shows that women with undiagnosed celiac disease have higher rates of infertility, severe iron deficiency, and miscarriage.
Pregnancy Complications and Celiac Disease
According to an Italian study of reproductive life, 65 percent of celiacs reported at least one gestational disorder, compared to the 31 percent of women without celiac in the study.
The common complications that were found are:
- Severe anemia was found in 41 percent of celiac women, but only 2 percent of the control subjects.
- Threatened miscarriage was experienced by 39 percent of celiac women, but only in nine percent of the control subjects.
- Placental abruption occurred within 18 percent of celiac women, but only one percent of non-celiac.
- Gestational hypertension occurred within ten percent of celiac women and none of the control subjects.
- Intrauterine growth restriction, where the unborn baby fails to grow at the proper rate, occurred in more than six percent of celiac women, but none of the control group.
The study found that 85 percent of these women were not diagnosed with celiac disease before their pregnancies and that following a gluten-free diet might have helped them to avert these pregnancy complications.
Another possible concern is that women with celiac disease have been found to have shorter pregnancies and lower birth weight babies on average.
Your Diet while Pregnant
When pregnant with celiac disease maintaining a gluten free diet will help you to avoid a lot of complications. It may seem difficult to get all of the nutrition that you need while on this diet, but here are a few particular nutrients to focus on:
- Iron- Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common symptoms of celiac disease. During pregnancy a baby takes a six month supply of iron from its mother. If your levels are too low your baby will not be able to get the amount of iron they need. Talk to your physician to find out if you are in the healthy range.
- Some iron filled foods to focus on are animal proteins such as lean beef, chicken, pork and turkey. The body absorbs iron best through meat. Combine iron filled foods with a source of vitamin C to help increase your iron absorption.
- Folate – Folate is vital to every pregnant woman. Women with celiac disease may need to take a supplement in order to maintain proper levels.
- Foods that are high in folate are asparagus, avocado, broccoli, spinach, lentils, and dark leafy greens.
- Copper and Zinc – These minerals are essential for fertility.
- Try eating foods such as beef, pork, beans, yogurt, and cashews.