Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
Can gluten in orthodontic retainers trigger celiac disease symptoms? The story of one 9-year-old girl's battle to beat her symptoms and feel better did not end with a gluten-free diet.
Celiac.com 08/22/2014 - It is often hard to tell if isolated case reports have anything to contribute to the larger understanding of celiac disease. However, some case reports are enough in themselves to cause reflection, whatever their contribution to the larger scientific understanding may be.
For most people with celiac disease, symptoms disappear and healing begins with the adoption of a gluten-free diet. For one 9-year-old girl, however, the battle to beat her symptoms and feel better did not end with a gluten-free diet.
The girl had initially complained of non-specific abdominal discomfort, and showed positive blood tests for celiac disease. Duodenal biopsies revealed Marsh 3B histopathology. So, she definitely had celiac disease with corresponding symptoms. Despite following a strict gluten-free diet, the girl continued to have symptoms and show positive blood tests for active disease.
Gluten is a common additive in plastics. After some detective work, the team discovered that the child was being exposed to gluten from her orthodontic retainer that contained a plasticized methacrylate polymer.
She discontinued its use and her symptoms disappeared and her celiac blood tests returned to normal.
This case illustrates that, even for patients on the strictest gluten-free diet, exposure to non-dietary sources of gluten, such as those used to make plastics, dental equipment, and cosmetics, can trigger or exacerbate celiac disease symptoms. This case also emphasizes the importance of ferreting out and removing all possible sources of gluten, including non-dietary, when managing celiac disease.