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Are oats safe for patients with coeliac disease?

Can people with coeliac disease safely include oats in their diet?

Can people with coeliac disease safely include oats in their diet?

Synopsis

Many patients with coeliac disease are still advised to avoid oats. This recommendation is largely based on early uncontrolled studies, anecdotal evidence, and a concern that oat products may be contaminated with wheat.

This systematic review carefully searched the literature and identified all uncontrolled and controlled trials. The largest trial randomised 92 adults with coeliac disease to eat oats or no oats for six months to 12 months. The authors found no difference in symptom resolution, mucosal healing or histology. A follow-up of the same group five years later found no differences between groups. A number of smaller histologic and immunological studies also showed no significant differences between groups.

Level of evidence

1a

Study design

Systematic review

Funding

Unknown/not stated

Setting

Outpatient (specialty)

Reference

Garsed K, Scott BB. Can oats be taken in a gluten-free diet? A systematic review. Scand J Gastroenterol 2007;42:171-8

Bottom Line

Oats can safely be consumed by patients with coeliac disease. A small amount of wheat contamination is common in rice, corn and oat products but generally does not reach the threshold of mucosal damage. Patients on a gluten-free diet may try adding oats, but should stop if they develop symptoms.

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