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Should You Put Your Child On A Gluten-Free Diet?

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Autumn 2012 Issue

Image: CC--Jay 09/22/2017 - I run into many parents who are in quite a quandary about instituting a gluten-free diet for their child. A typical scenario is that one of the parents is gluten intolerant and is highly suspicious that their child is as well. Due to the child being 'relatively healthy' the non-gluten intolerant spouse suggests that the child be able to 'live a little' and enjoy the cake and pizza that is so prevalent during children's parties and sporting events.

In my opinion, there is no question about whether a gluten-free diet should be implemented, after confirmation that gluten intolerance exists that is. I know that gluten intolerance vastly increases your risk of developing diseases that can affect almost any system and/or organ in the human body. The evidence shows that it vastly increases your risk for autoimmune disease. I also know that it can be rather silent in a younger body, but if a positive test exists, then it IS doing damage, regardless of whether it is felt or not.

To add a little more strength to my argument is the result of a recent study published by the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics wherein researchers aimed to evaluate the influence of celiac disease on the social aspects of life in those living in the U.S.

Not surprisingly celiac disease did have a negative impact on the quality of life in social settings, specifically in the area of travel and dining out. However, and this is where I find that most people make their mistake with their children, the researchers found that 'those diagnosed in childhood and maintained on the diet experienced a reduced impact on their quality of life as an adult'.

So it turns out that you aren't doing any favors to your at-risk child by putting off the implementation of a gluten-free diet. You're not only creating negative impacts health-wise, as mentioned above, but by delaying a gluten-free diet you are also condemning them to the perception of a lower quality of life.

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If you think about it, if gluten-free is pretty much all you've ever known, you would be less likely to miss it. You haven't built up the memories of gluten-containing cakes and pizzas and pancakes.

Please do not put off testing your child because you think you're doing him or her a favor by putting it off. The truth is quite the contrary. Waiting could allow an autoimmune or other illness to develop that could have been avoided. There is absolutely NO benefit to one's health to continue eating gluten when one is gluten intolerant, and it turns out that there is no benefit psychologically either.

Have you run into this argument from friends or family? Have you put off diagnosing a child because you were made to feel guilty? Please write to me and let me know your experiences and thoughts.

To your good health.



  • Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012 Feb 25. Living with coeliac disease: survey results from the USA. Volume 25, Issue 3, pages 233–238, June 2012 welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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2 Responses:

AWOL cast iron stomach
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said this on
22 Sep 2017 2:49:11 PM PST
I am a 4th decade of life diagnosis and my earliest symptoms besides constipation was IC bladder issues present age 5. I remember begging my mom to take me to the doctor , nothing showed up, I cried as the symptoms continued. I truly didn't know what it was, but I knew something was wrong. It was a maddening bladder spasm that would not go away, my bladder was empty, and I could not stop the discomfort. My mom I know then believed me, but it showed nothing on tests what was it? I remember the mixture of concern and perplex on her face she very rarely shows in life. In time I learned to stop complaining, sit certain ways to create pressure that would reduce the spasm and discomfort. I learned to use the bathroom often to ensure my bladder was empty and would mind over matter the incessant spasm symptoms best I could. Since there was no explanation it was inferred I was an anxious child who was anxious about using the rest room. Fast forward more decades more symptoms piled on (including GI through accumulating into ones that would send me to Dr. & Hospital. I was diagnosed IBS in my early 20s. My husband was the first person to suggest bread was bad for me not a Dr., as for myself well you're told it's just you as a child and the programming self plays a lifetime so my self talk said the same. As my health declined I had testing in my 40s, awaiting my scope appointment months away,I did ask my children's Dr for a blood test celiac panel for each . She said no since I had not been diagnosed officially. Following my incomplete challenge (yes I went gf once to see if it would help and it did I did not want to challenge). A bad error at a restaurant had me back at a Dr for official testing as arthritis now joined the club of my many celiac symptoms. We had to remove gluten from the home entirely now due to my very bad symptoms with cc after my challenge. When that was done my kids became gluten light my son quickly manifested my early symptoms when he had gluten, corn, and milk. My son knew, my husband the empirist, pointed out the news to me. Free of the offenders my son felt better, his skin, GI, and bladder improved. He had seen his mom attempt the gluten challenge and said no mom I don't want to do that when I offered to take him to a different Dr. He said mom why would I eat something that makes me sick to find damage? We know we what it is , I eat like you now. I do regret not knowing sooner for myself or my son. So many missed opportunities. He is 10 so I have read he has a higher prevalence of AI issues approximately 20 percent or so. He does very well with the diet and surprisingly has a discipline I would not expect a boy his age to have. I do wish I had known sooner for he and myself. I do worry about our daughter who says no I have no problems mom. We are entirely gf free house and she knows my concerns for her should she find consuming gluten outside our home becomes a problem. My husband as the non gluten intolerant parent is completely supportive of the issue and does not force my son to have a regular diet. He feels our daughter is much better off being limited to a Whole Foods diet and not a typical SAD one. I'll never know what life would be like if diagnosed earlier nor do I know what awaits me on this journey having gone so long eating gluten. I have concerns that testing is below where it should be from technology and screening for the population and especially youth, but more parents seem aware about food allergies then decades before. I don't think celiac knowledge and awareness is where it should be yet. The SAD diet prevails, but more schools are supporting the Whole Foods treats and none or limited vending machines. Public health and time will show if this is larger than 1 percent and if not better and earlier screening at the minimum will come on the scene. I do hope children with this problem are detected earlier than myself and my son.

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said this on
29 Sep 2017 2:09:01 PM PST
Why everyone keeps saying that GF diet is bad? Do you want just to keep in trend with others? Are you sure modern Gluten is good? Are you sure limiting Gluten in food is bad and will not prevent (delay) Celiac? Obviously you don't know. So just explain how to replace Gluten in our diet. If you want to help people, explain them that only missing thing with GF are polysaccharides. Without them human microbiota becomes poor. So explain others where to get polysaccharides from food (for example chicory). That article would have some value. And please don't start about FOMAP's. That stuff people will get enough.

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