Celiac.com published an article on July 17, 2009 explaining that doctors, well versed in celiac disease, now recommend any child with behavioral disorders be tested for celiac. For those that are not familiar with celiac disease, it is a digestive disease where gluten from food damages the lining of the small intestine and creates malabsorption of nutrients (minerals and vitamins).
Celiac is referred to as a genetic disease so if one person in your family has it, it would be important for you to get tested. For some people they can go through most of their life and never have one symptom (or they never receive the right diagnosis). 1 in 133 people have it but only 3% of them are diagnosed. It is important to know there are triggers for this disease. Some triggers are: Surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional stress.
My celiac started up after the birth of my triplets. I started getting sick from eating processed foods and I also developed an allergy to casein (dairy) as well. I believe my daughter's celiac was most likely triggered by vaccinations (but that is hard to prove...just call it a mom's intuition).
Back to the subject at hand: It has been well documented that children with celiac disease have a greater chance of suffering from schizophrenia, depression and obsessional neurosis (if it is not treated).
Classical symptoms in children are:
- Delayed growth
- Failure to thrive as infants
- Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- Projectile vomiting
- Abdominal bloating/distention
A recent study done by Luca Mascitelli, M.D., Francesca Pezzetta, M.D. and Mark R. Goldstein, M.D. concluded that children with psychiatric symptoms improved after they implemented a gluten-free diet. On a personal note, I "got my daughter back" after putting her on a GF/CF (gluten-free / casein-free) diet. She had horrible OCD, tantrums, was not sleeping well and was diagnosed with autism. All of her "autistic characteristics" disappeared after the diet change...and I mean 100% of them. One month after starting her on this diet my father was diagnosed with celiac disease. That was all of the confirmation I needed.
It is also important to know that you don't have to have digestive problems to have an allergy to gluten. Many people have no symptoms at all, some only have psychological issues and some have a multitude of issues. I feel that so many doctors are not fully knowledgeable on celiac disease. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism I asked the doctor if the GF/CF diet helps autistic children. She said it was, "not proven to work."
All I know is that gluten certainly gave my daughter "autistic characteristics." So much so that three psychologists easily diagnosed her with autism. After one year on the diet, a team of psychologists, neurologists and all sorts of therapists easily came to the conclusion she is NOT autistic "anymore." I am so glad I tried the diet and I hope someday it is protocol for doctors to run the celiac blood tests on all children with behavioral disorders.
If you never think of gluten as a cause to your child's behavioral disorder, then you will never test for it. My hope is that all parents of children with behavioral and/or seizure disorders will think about it. It certainly can't hurt anything. If the blood test comes back positive, just imagine how some or all of your child's issues could potentially disappear simply from a dietary change.
I never claim this diet to be the one sure bet to heal a child. I know that is sadly not true. But it has changed the life of one little girl I know and love and I know it is surely worth a try.