Background: Six to 12 months of ingestion of moderate amounts of oats does not have a harmful effect in adult patients with coeliac disease. As the safety of long term intake of oats in coeliac patients is not known, we continued our previous 6–12 month study for five years.
Aim: To assess the safety of long term ingestion of oats in the diet of coeliac patients.
Patients: In our previous study, the effects of a gluten free diet and a gluten free diet including oats were compared in a randomised trial involving 92 adult patients with coeliac disease (45 in the oats group, 47 in the control group). After the initial phase of 6–12 months, patients in the oats group were allowed to eat oats freely in conjunction with an otherwise gluten free diet. After five years, 35 patients in the original oats group (23 still on an oats diet) and 28 in the control group on a conventional gluten free diet were examined.
Methods: Clinical and nutritional assessment, duodenal biopsies for conventional histopathology and histomorphometry, and measurement of antiendomysial, antireticulin, and antigliadin antibodies.
Results: There were no significant differences between controls and those patients consuming oats with respect to duodenal villous architecture, inflammatory cell infiltration of the duodenal mucosa, or antibody titres after five years of follow up. In both groups histological and histomorphometric indexes improved equally with time.
Conclusions: This study provides the first evidence of the long term safety of oats as part of a coeliac diet in adult patients with coeliac disease. It also appears that the majority of coeliac patients prefer oats in their diet.
Keywords: coeliac disease, gluten free diet, oats, villous atrophy