According to a new Swedish study, a diet containing moderate amounts of oats may be safe for children with celiac disease, a disorder in which diarrhea and other symptoms occur when certain grain products are eaten.

People with celiac disease are advised to avoid foods that contain a wheat protein called gluten. Treatment of celiac disease requires lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet, including all foods containing wheat, rye, barley, and oats. However, recent studies - mainly in adults - have shown that oats are non-toxic to celiac disease patients.

In this newest study, researchers examined whether children with celiac disease can tolerate oats in their gluten-free diet. 116 patients were randomly assigned to a standard gluten-free diet or to one that included oats. Compared with the standard diet, the oat diet did not seem to worsen symptoms or adversely affect the function or structure of the small intestine.

The authors note that oats may enhance the taste of the standard gluten-free diet, and could improve dietary compliance among patients - especially teenagers - with celiac disease.

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