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Celiac And Learning Disability Symptoms
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Hi! My son was diagnosed with celiac and lactose intolerance a month and a half ago. He is doing well on the diet. I am wondering if there is any connection between kids with celiac and learning disabilities. My son's teacher thinks he should be tested as he has difficulty retaining information. He does not seem to have any attention or behavior problems. He is seven years old. I appreciate any info anyone might have.

Thanks in advance.

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Hi! My son was diagnosed with celiac and lactose intolerance a month and a half ago. He is doing well on the diet. I am wondering if there is any connection between kids with celiac and learning disabilities. My son's teacher thinks he should be tested as he has difficulty retaining information. He does not seem to have any attention or behavior problems. He is seven years old. I appreciate any info anyone might have.

Thanks in advance.

I'm an elementary teacher. I've never read anything connecting learning disabilities and celiac disease. But a lot of people on this forum mention feeling fuzzy headed when they eat gluten. It can also cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, etc. I don't know what your son's symptoms were before he went on the diet, but I would think that spending kindergarten and first grade feeling lousy--even just frequent stomach aches or diarrhea--might have slowed his learning down a bit. Of course, now that he is on the diet and feeling better perhaps he'll be able to retain information better and catch up?

Good luck. It sounds as if you at least have a nice concerned teacher.

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as a parent I could see how a sick child would have a hard time with school.

I would first attribute all of his issues with Celiacs and go from there.

If after 6-12 months of being gluten free he is still having problems then I would look into further options.

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My daughter is almost 7, and she has learning difficulties as well. Retaining information is a biggie for her, she still can't remember her birthday, address, or phone number. Two years ago we had her evaluated by a developmental pediatrician, and they found she was very far behind in her receptive/expressive language. We did private speech therapy for one summer, and now she is in speech therapy at school twice a week.

The one thing she picked up very quickly was reading....she reads great, but she can't retell the story she just read. First grade is proving to be a bit difficult for her, especially math. I'm learning math is difficult for kids with language issues. She's also still behind her peers socially, she loves other kids, but only if they are younger than her.

So, at least in our case, I think being sick for so long definately impacted my dd's neurological development. She has been gluten free for 4 years now, but I think she'll always have learning disabilities. Therapy has definately helped though, so you may look into getting your son evaluated to see if there is an issue. Hope that helps!

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Hi! My son was diagnosed with celiac and lactose intolerance a month and a half ago. He is doing well on the diet. I am wondering if there is any connection between kids with celiac and learning disabilities. My son's teacher thinks he should be tested as he has difficulty retaining information. He does not seem to have any attention or behavior problems. He is seven years old. I appreciate any info anyone might have.

Thanks in advance.

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but rather an intolerance to the protein in gluten, a substance found in wheat and other grains.

For susceptible people, gluten injures the small intestinal lining (called

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My son's pediatrician mentioned to us that there is a connection. She asked us if we had noticed a difference and we have noticed a big one. He has just gotten over an accidental glutening and it reminded me of what things were like before. He couldn't remember anything, would forget to bring homework home, wouldn't write it in his planner, wouldn't remember to go to his instrumental lessons, would do the homework, but then forget to hand it in. The teachers would give me such a hard time. He is 11 now and was diagnosed at 10. I would say that it took several months to see an improvement in how he handles school, but he is SO MUCH better now. I hope your son improves too. Maybe you should explain the connection to the teacher and wait a few months before having him tested. He may improve on his own.

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Thanks to all who have responded. I think we will have my son tested to make sure we are not missing something, but it seems this could be celiac related. Again thanks for the info.

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My son did not have learning disabilities (The opposite actually, he has a superior IQ) but he did have speech delays. The articulation delays have gone away but he still stutters sometimes.

As a first grade teacher, my advice would be to listen to your son's teacher and go ahead with testing. You never know what you will find out. If he qualifies that is great. He can start getting the help he needs. If he doesn't qualify, I would wait a bit longer for the diet to really kick in and his body to heal. That may be playing a huge factor in your son's memory. Good luck!

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Our son (now 4.5) has been gluten free for 14 months. He definitely has learning issues from gluten. He has delays in his speech, and we saw one of the experts in the country for late talking kids and was told that our son's delays are typical for what this doctor sees with kids with celiac. Our son has improved a lot, but we did have an incident this summer in which he got a piece of "real" pizza. We saw his amount of speaking reduce dramatically, his pronounciation was bad, and a couple of other negative things.

You might want to make sure your child isn't anemic---we found out this fall our son was. Also, have his levels for magnesium, b12, calcium, and zinc checked. We give our son cod liver oil for the omega oils which are necessary for brain development.

I would definitely hold off on any testing. We started to really see a positive change around the 6 month mark. I would give your son's body a chance to heal and a chance for the gluten to get out.

Blessings!

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Thanks! It's nice to hear that the celiac might be the culprit. He has only been gluten free for a month and his appetite has dramatically improved. It will be interesting to see if his learning does also. Thanks for the replies.

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    • I figured I would update those who were wondering.  I have gotten the appt. so far moved up to August 30. I am waiting to have gene testing done via swab for all 3 of my kiddos tomorrow. My daughters celiac antibodies came up negative but her IgA is low which the ped said could cause false negative antibodies for celiac so she will need to see a GI dr. also. The pediatrician is going to call the GI to try to get them in sooner. I am keeping them all on a gluten diet until the GI dr. decides what to do. I am on the cancellation list already for my son, however I am not going to be persistent with my phone calls to them until I have the results of the gene test. I really want that result in my hand before going to the GI dr if I can. Maybe if he is positive, along with his bloodwork and my history they can forgo the endoscopy. But he will eat gluten till then.  My husband and I have been very honest and upfront with him as to what is going on and the possibility of the endoscopy and what that entails and although scared in general he seems ok after assuring him that since I have it he has me to help him every step of the way.  Going through his current diet with him I realized that he is truly on such a low gluten diet that I am actually surprised his bloodwork shows antibodies at all!  So I told him to make a list of allllll the gluten he could possibly think of eating and he needs to pound it until the GI visit or endoscopy. Funny thing is everything he keeps thinking of to want to eat...is already gluten free!  The other night we were at a friends and he asked if he could be done with his hotdog. I made him finish just the bread 😂 Thanks for your help and advise and I will keep y'all posted on both kids!  My oldest is a ok as far as all his antibodies. Just actually had a follow up for other immune issues and all his levels are now normal!
    • I like your plan Cara, I may have to include it in my sons.    Poor little guy is still very very sick. I think he is resisting and cheating, despite having the support of two other siblings and a 100% gluten-free home. 
    • Despite it being a nightmare, I did wait for my kids to get biopsies. At one point I had one severely ill child gluten-free and two more waiting having to eat it. It was worth the wait though and I think long term a biopsy may be worthwhile, especially for school. I have already had issues with schools and camps so having a firm diagnosis has been helpful. 
    • Knowing that the reaction to gluten in celiacs is an uncalled for immune system reaction, I was thinking of how a cure would be possible. Maybe a medicine that somehow turns off the immune system. The only thing that i've heard do that... HIV.  obviously that's way worse than celiac. Just some food for thought.
    • Well, you can probably get an apple or something.  You might be able to get someone to boil you some eggs.  But be careful of things like nuts that should be naturally gluten free.  They have almost always been soaked in a flavor solution that usually containes caramel coloring, "soy" (wheat) sauce and other aditives.  If I am really hungry and must eat in a Chinese restaurant, I order plain white rice and steamed vegetables.  But even so, you must monitor it carefully.  The rice sometimes has other substances added to give it a better texture, and very often the vegetables have in fact had "just a little bit" of soy sauce added.  To be fair, celiac disease is hardly ever found in East Asians, so understandably people are not tuned it to it.  Also, culturally, with the exception of fruits, it is generally thought that the flavor of foods needs to be enhanced, so it is had to find anything natural even in the "western" gorceries. Even in the western restaurants, be careful.  Fish and meat and often vegetables are usually pre-marinated. I will not even attempt to address the issue of cross-comtamination, since that is a whole higher order of things. I do know what I am talking about; I have celiac and have worked here for nearly 7 years.  
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