Celiac.com 11/05/2009 - It's well known that people with celiac disease often show reduced bone mineral density, and that metabolic bone disease is a significant and common complication of celiac disease. A new article in the journal Nutrition Reviews reinforces the benefits of a gluten-free diet in reducing bone problems in children with celiac disease.
This is important information, because, even though celiac disease can be diagnosed at any age, it most often discovered in children between 9 and 24 months of age.
By better understanding the benefits of a gluten-free diet in preventing bone disease, parents can make smarter choices that will help build healthy bones in their celiac kids.
Ideally, this will help the kids to avoid the reduced bone mineral density that can lead to the inability to develop optimal bone mass as children and to the loss of bone as adults, both of which increase the risk of osteoporosis, and contribute to an additional risk of fracture.
The good news is that the evidence suggests that a gluten-free diet in celiac children paves the way for a rapid increase in bone mineral density, followed by a complete recovery of bone mineralization. Children may attain normal peak bone mass if the diagnosis is made and treatment is given before puberty, thereby preventing osteoporosis in later life.
Also, regular calcium and vitamin D supplements seem to increase the bone mineral density of children and adolescents with celiac disease.
In adults, the picture is less rosy. In adults, a gluten-free diet improves, although rarely normalizes, bone mineral density.
"Our findings reinforce the importance of a strict gluten-free diet, which remains the only scientific proven treatment for celiac disease to date," the authors conclude. "Early diagnosis and therapy are critical in preventing celiac disease complications, like reduced bone mineral density."