Experimental and epidemiological evidence has shown that modifications of the intrauterine environment can have deleterious consequences for individuals, expressed as an increased risk of suffering non-communicable pathologies in adult life, which is known as the hypothesis of the early origin of diseases or fetal programming. On the other hand, changes in gene expression patterns through epigenetic modifications can be the basis for long-term maintenance of the effects of fetal programming. In this sense, epigenetics comprises the study of intrauterine disturbances, which develop diseases in the adult, including celiac disease (CD). In addition, early feeding practices could influence the risk of CD development, such as breastfeeding timing and duration and age of gluten introduction in the diet. Gluten acts as a trigger for CD in genetically predisposed subjects, although approximately 30% of the world population has HLA DQ2 or DQ8, the prevalence of the disease is only 1–3%. It is not known what factors act to modify the risk of disease in genetically at-risk subjects. Taking into account all these considerations, the aim of the current review is to elucidate the role of early programming and the effect of early nutrition on the development and progression of CD. It is logical that attention has been paid to gluten as a key element in preventing the disease. However, there is no strong evidence in favor of the protective factor of breastfeeding, timing of introduction of gluten during lactation, and the development of CD. Diet, genetic risk, microbiota, and environmental interaction are possible triggers of the change in tolerance to an immune response to gluten, but large-scale cohort studies are needed. Emerging scientific concepts, such as epigenetics, may help us establish the role of these factors.
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