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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Mysteriously Infertile Woman Conceives After Celiac Diagnosis, Gluten-free Diet

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 07/04/2014 - Celiac disease can be a factor in many cases of unexplained infertility in women. The recent case in Orlando, Florida of a woman named Vicky Crust, serves to drive home that fact, and to illustrate the potential benefits of a gluten-free diet in such cases.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--docuCrust suffered for years from abdominal pain, constipation, weight loss and a skin rash that overtook her nose, mouth and legs. Now, in spite of all these symptoms, Crust married, and began trying to start a family with her husband. She conceived twice, but was unable to carry full term. She couldn’t figure it out, and neither could doctors. Doctor after doctor failed to diagnose her celiac disease, and her symptoms grew worse as she progressed into her twenties.

    In 2010, Crust was diagnosed with celiac disease and her doctors at the Mayo Clinic believed that because she was otherwise healthy, she could have a successful pregnancy if she adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. Now, to be fair to Crust’s earlier doctors, celiac disease can be hard to spot. "Not everybody has symptoms. Not everybody may have the rash, the diarrhea, just overall weakness and other manifestations of celiac disease," says Dr. Christine Greves, an OB-GYN at Winnie Palmer in Orlando.

    After her diagnosis, Crust embraced a gluten-free diet, and that paid off nicely for her. Her rash healed, her stomach pains disappeared, and, most delightfully of all, she became pregnant. "My life is great now. I couldn't conceive before and now I am six months pregnant," she said. Obviously, celiac disease will not be a factor in every case of unexplained fertility, and a great deal more work needs to be done.

    However, Crust’s story is by no means rare, and is perhaps emblematic of the effects of celiac disease and the importance of getting a proper diagnosis, and adopting a gluten-free diet once diagnosed.

    Do you know anyone with a similar story?

    This story was first reported by WESH in Orlando, Florida.


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    After having my first child I began to have celiac symptoms. Went to doctors and was told I was just an older mom and that was why I was tired. 2 years later tried to have another baby and nothing happened. I went to fertility doctors and tried clomid and other stuff. 6 years later I was diagnosed with celiacs and went gluten free, now I feel great. I often wonder if I could have had more children if I was diagnosed sooner. Try to focus on my blessings, one great kid and I feel great as long as I stay away from gluten.

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    This could be a significant issue but the article is really unhelpful for several reasons. 1. It's a sample of one. 2. It is technically inaccurate: the woman was not infertile (unable to conceive) but rather unable to carry a fetus to term. 3. It is not informative: it gives no explanation or hypothesis to help readers understand how celiac disease is related to the history of miscarriages (was it a secondary effect, from maternal malnutrition? or something more direct that has to do with the autoimmune nature of celiac disease? Or...?)

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    My mother and I both had preterm labor with all of our pregnancies but didn't know we had celiac until after. Wish we had known, probably would have been OK and not needed all the meds. There should be a protocol of if you have several miscarriages, preterm labor, etc., test for celiac.

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    I have celiac and had 1 live birth then 2 miscarriages. My daughter had one child and was pregnant with twins. She lost one at 20 weeks. She just went to get blood work today to find out if she has celiac. She is due in August and hope celiac was not the cause. More doctor awareness is needed.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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