Does your child suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease? The health of a child is of paramount importance to a parent. While it is often easy to recognize when a child has an acute health issue, such as a cold, it can be difficult to identify a more subtle health issue such as gluten sensitivity or intolerance. In this article, we take a look at the symptoms of gluten intolerance in a child or kids that you should be able to recognize.
Children and Gluten Intolerance
Gluten is a protein substance found originally in a variety of grains such as barley and wheat. The name comes from the Latin word for “glue,” which explains the role it plays in the elastic nature of bread. With its ability to help create and hold forms, gluten has become a favorite of companies creating processed foods. The result is an explosion in the presence of gluten in the foods we commonly eat in modern society.
Do children suffer from negative reactions to gluten? Yes. Gluten intolerance is a health issue that is not age specific. In the case of children, however, the reaction can often be misdiagnosed resulting in a child being given medication for a non-existent health issue. A lethargic child, for instance, might incorrectly be diagnosed as suffering from depression.
5 Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Children or Kids
For parents, knowledge plays a major role in diagnosing the presence of a gluten issue in a child. Let’s take a look at common gluten intolerance symptoms in children.
- Weight Loss – A child should act like a plant in spring – growing quickly. Part of growing quickly is gaining weight. A child that not only doesn’t gain weight, but actually loses it is a child with a health issue. A significantly negative reaction to gluten could well be the problem. As part of the reaction, the body will often lose the ability to adequately absorb the nutrients found in digested food. This causes the valuable nutrients to pass through the body as waste. This also causes malnutrition, but causes the body to use up valuable fat stores for energy leading to further weight loss.
- Fatigue – Think back to your childhood. How many kids suffered from being tired other than after a hard day of playing outside? None. Kids are efficient machines. They take energy in as food and burn it off quickly through exercising and anatomical growth. With gluten intolerance, a child will often be tired throughout the day despite getting little exercise. This is often an indication there is a food absorption problem, a classic element of gluten intolerance.
- Rashes – Kids get into everything, so the odd rash is not a reason for concern. A persistent rash is another matter. This is particularly when the rash is found on the back of the upper arms, which is a classic symptom of gluten intolerance in kids and adults alike. The rash will often appear with little bumps, which gives it the nickname of “chicken skin.”
- Stomach Pain and Bloating – Gluten intolerance is typically centered in the digestive system, particularly the intestines. If a child is consistently being fed gluten, even if unintentionally, the digestive system can begin to react as a whole. As the negative reaction works its way up the digestive system, stomach pain and bloating will become a real problem, and a painful one.
- Problems Sleeping – Watch television for a short period of time and you are bound to see a commercial offering some type of aid to help you sleep. While children typically sleep fairly easily, gluten intolerance can turn their world upside down. It tends to present through abdominal pain, which causes a child to wake up repeatedly in the evening. This can add to their fatigue during the day, which creates a sort of loop of misery.
The best means for avoiding gluten sensitivity or intolerance is simple – eliminate gluten from the diet. As the world wakes up to this issue, foods without this protein will proudly display the “gluten free” phrase on their labels. As a general rule, eat only gluten-free food for 30 days and then see how the child is doing. The change is often remarkable.
For mothers still breast feeding a child, it is important to understand the mother must also eat a gluten free diet. Yes, gluten can be passed through breast milk.
Gluten Intolerance Treatment for Children or Kids
The only real treatment for gluten intolerance is eating a diet without gluten in it. There is no medication that treats the disease. Bismuth Subsalicylate taken orally, however, can help diminish the digestive systems that arise from the sensitivity. Make sure to check with your pediatrician first to determine if the use of this medication is safe with the particular child in question.
When considering common symptoms of gluten intolerance in children, it is important to keep in mind every child reacts differently to this growing problem. While the symptoms detailed above are common, they hardly represent an exhaustive list.