Celiac Sprue Disease
Celiac Sprue Disease
A child suffering from celiac sprue disease is unable to digest gluten, the protein present in wheat, oats, and barley. Gluten intolerance surfaces in one out of every 10,000 Caucasian birth; commonly among people of Irish and Scottish descent. Although the exact pattern is unknown, celiac disease tends to run in families. Parents with the intolerance condition themselves should watch
Once the intestines become irritated, the absorption of other nutrients is affected. If unchecked, the child can suffer severe growth impairments. In its advanced state, celiac disease can result in clubbed fingers and delayed tooth developments.
The most telling sign is loose, fatty, foul-smelling bowl movements. In addition, the child may be irritable with little or no appetite. His or her abdomen may be distended. Vomiting and dehydration are also common. When the intolerance is present in infants who are eating cereal early, the effects can be life-threatening. These infants need emergency care to replace lost fluids. In most cases, however, by the time celiac disease is diagnosed, the child will have a history of chronic diarrhea; his or her height and weight will likely be less than the average. Because frequent diarrhea can also signal intestinal infections or lactose intolerance, the physician may perform a biopsy (examination of a small piece of tissue) of the small intestine to determine that celiac disease exists.
Once celiac disease has been diagnosed, all gluten foods should be eliminated from the child's diet. Packaged foods, including baby foods, contain various forms of gluten; any of the following ingredients listed on the package indicate that the food should be avoided: wheat or rye flour, bran, farina, wheat germ, semolina, cereal additives. Based on the results of a 1995 study, some physicians believe that celiac sprue patients can include oat in their diets.
Corn, rice, potato, or soy flour can take the place of the offending grains. A varied diet of unprocessed meats, eggs, milk, cheeses, fish, fruits, and vegetables will provide the child with a nutritionally balanced diet. The child's physician may also recommend that the child take vitamin B and D and iron supplements, and folic acid to aid digestion.
Occasionally a child will develop a temporary sugar intolerance, brought on by the unchecked celiac sprue. In that case, eliminate sugar from the child's diet for four to six weeks until the gluten intolerance is under control. Although the gluten intolerance may subside during adolescence, it often reoccurs during adulthood, particularly in the 30s and 40s. Many physicians consider celiac sprue disease as a life-long condition and recommend that the gluten-free diet be followed throughout life.
Braly, James, M.D. and Laura Torbet. Dr. Braly's Food Allergy and Nutrition Revolution. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1992.
Gluten Intolerance: A Resource Including Recipes. Chicago: American Dietetic Association, 1985.
Wood, Marion N. Coping with the Gluten-Free Diet. Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1982.
Celiac Disease Foundation
Address: 13251 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604-1838
Telephone: (818) 990-2354
Celiac Sprue Association/USA Inc.
Address: 120 North 69TH Street
Omaha, NE 68132-2720
Telephone: (402) 558-0600
(Publishes cookbooks and other information.)