Should Your Child Be Eating Gluten Free?
There is a lot of talk about Gluten Free Diets out there right now. Perhaps someone you work with is on a Gluten Free diet or maybe a classmate of your kiddo can’t eat gluten. You might be thinking to yourself that eating Gluten Free is just another fad diet that will fade away like the Atkins Diet. But what you may not realize is a Gluten Free diet is a health requirement for people with Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity. Eating gluten for them can cause health issues and risks that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is actually a composite of several different proteins found in wheat and related grains, such as barley and rye. It is what gives bread its characteristic chewiness, and it is used in food processing to help foods stick together. In fact, the word “gluten” means “glue” in Latin. Many people think that Gluten is just in bread. But gluten can be found in all sorts of products such as toothpaste, lotion and even coffee.
Could my child be Gluten Intolerant?
It is estimated that 1 percent of the American population has Celiac Disease today. According to new studies though, the Celiac Disease diagnosis rate may reach 50-60% by 2019. That’s just Celiac Disease! These numbers don’t include those who suffer from Gluten Sensitivity.
Also if a family member has gluten issues the odds are even higher that you or your kids may have one. 5-22% of Celiac patients have an immediate family member (1st degree relative) who also has Celiac.
Symptoms and Signs in Children
The signs of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity can vary, and they appear at any age. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Other symptoms can include:
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Decreased appetite
- Stomachache, bloating and gas
- Damaged or discolored tooth enamel
- Skin rashes
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Poor growth
- Weight loss
How to find out if your child is Gluten Intolerant?
If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms above you should talk to your pediatrician and let them know your concerns. Your pediatrician may suggest going on a Gluten Free diet for 30 days to see if there is any relief from the symptoms or they may want to do a screening for Celiac disease.
There is no treatment for Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity except to follow a Gluten Free diet. This may seem daunting at first, especially with your young child, but rest assured you can do it. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about gluten and to find a support network where you can ask questions and get advice.
For more information on Living the Gluten Free lifestyle here in Des Moines visit Gluten Free DSM. Gluten Free DSM is a brand new website that offers advice, recipes, support and more focusing on living Gluten Free in Central Iowa.