Can Kids Outgrow Gluten Intolerance?

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I have celiac disease (confirmed by positive antibody blood test and positive response to gluten-free diet) - diagnosed in October 2009, but symptoms since infancy. I have a beautiful 8 month old daughter who is sadly showing signs of celiac/gluten intolerance. After lots of deliberation, consulting with my GI specialist and baby girl's ped, we introduced gluten at 6 1/2 months old (she had no solids at all until just before 6 months old, she is breastfed, and I'm on a gluten-free diet). Not often, and only in small amounts, as she's mostly eating from my plate and my plate is, of course, gluten free. I noticed after introducing gluten she started getting constipated fairly regularly - having to get things moving along with lots of fruit (pureed prunes - yummy!), etc. about once every week and a half. Two weeks ago, after having a smidgen of her (adopted) older brother's vanilla birthday cake, she had a bad reaction. Rashy bum, rashy cheeks, and fussy/crying/not sleeping well (screaming in pain in her sleep, inconsolable, etc.) for a few days. Suspected gluten is the problem and she's been completely gluten free since.

Until today. Decided it'd been long enough to try gluten again and see how she does. Gave her a small amount of chocolate cupcake - maybe 1/2 tsp total. Within an hour she was fussing with a tummy ache. Tonight, really bad rash on her bum, girly bits, thighs, and some random hive spots (only a few) scattered over her body.

DH and I have decided that clearly she can't tolerate gluten, and to keep her completely gluten free until she's around 3 years old, then try introducing it again.

My question is - if this is gluten intolerance vs. celiac (she's too young to reliably test for celiac, and I'm hoping she hasn't inherited celiac from me), can she outgrow it? Or should we just resign ourselves to her needing to be gluten-free for life?

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It used to be believed that children would outgrow celiac, and indeed sometimes during the teen years they often have a honeymoon period, but almost invariably it comes back to bite big time later on. :( There have been only a rare one or two cases known of celiac going into complete remission.

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If it is celiac or gluten sensitivity as we know it, no she will not grow out of it.

Thing is, with kids this young (I have an 11mo old), you can't really tell. Their digestive systems are immature and there are some difficult to digest proteins that they can't digest as well early as they can later. So, what she may react badly to now, she might be able to handle later.

I'm going to throw in a big caveat, though. If you had *just* noticed intestinal issues (and I'm going to throw fussing/crying/poor sleep into that mix), then I'd be inclined to think it's worth trying again. The fact that she got a rash and has family history makes me think that gluten sensitivity or celiac is more likely. Unless, of course, she was demonstrating a true allergy. *That* might be worth investigating at some point, because if she does have a true allergy, you should know so that you can be on the look out for signs of it worsening if she gets accidental contamination. (MOST allergies do not progress to anaphylactic ones, but it's worth being aware so you can keep an eye out.)

I think that you guys are doing the right thing and that I would probably do the same thing with my daughter as well.

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Well, DH points out that maybe it's something else in the cake/cupcake other than gluten. Sure, those are the last two gluten exposures, but they're also sources of artificial flavour, artificial colour, etc.

So...we're thinking once she's rash free, regular, and doing well, we'll try one more time with a "healthy" gluten (wheat-containing baby cereal). If she reacts to that, then we know it's the wheat/gluten.

Figuring out food issues with babies is so tough!

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My little guy is almost 3 (In July) and he exhibited similar symptoms as a nursling so I went gluten-free for him. I again tried gluten in the form of barley baby cereal and got a HORRIBLE reaction from that. For him, so far he has not outgrown it if it is just a gluten sensitivity.

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Do you also give her gluten free sugary foods like cake? I mean, I know my 10 month old would react to eating cupcakes. Gluten or not.... Also, why is she to young to be tested? My son was diagnosed at 18 months, and we were told the second my daughter showed any signs they would test her. We thought she showed signs when we first started solids.. then we realized that she was just adjusting to eating solids. she does just fine now. (for now, but we will keep an eye on her)

I cant recall the age range but there is a set age range that if you introduce gluten to their diet when prone to celiacs it greatly reduces their chances of developing it. I think it was 4-6 months but I can't remember. There is basically a small window that if they aren't introduced then, their risk goes up higher. Granted, it sounds like you are passed that and your baby already had gluten.

Your best bet is to talk to a doctor but also to explore on your own, with easy foods. I wouldn't consider diaper rash an automatic thought of having celiacs. Introducing solids can cause all sorts of issues, gluten or not. That's why I think your first place to start is talking to your doctor about solids in general (not even the gluten part) and once you can get her on regular solids try to see if gluten does in fact cause any problems. There is baby foods that contain gluten, and little puff stars that have wheat in them. That is how we introduced gluten in our non-gluten household. You are doing great staying on top of it, but don't put all the eggs in one basket quiet yet.

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