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Digestive Disorders

Gluten Sensitivity??

08/14/2007

Question:

My 2.5 yr old grandson has had stomach problems since birth. He used to have screaming attacks which could last for 2 hours plus he had heaps of wind. Gripewater, infacol etc only made him more irritable. Doctor thought it might have been reflux but none of the meds worked and also made him more irritable. At 6 weeks he went onto formula (still no better),at 4 months onto solids which also made him worse. we have been to every doctor, allergy specialist, gastro., herbalist, naturalists, dietician etc., we could think of but no one could shed light on it and we were more or less told that since he was still growing and wasnt backward in any way to not worry about it. Went to a health shop end of last year and they said he might be gluten sensitive. So we went gluten free for 6 weeks, still no improvement, he had more problems on the gluten free food (potato starch, rice starch) then the gluten. He had blood tests done beginning of the year which showed high IgG levels (80). So doctor ordered a bowel biopsy. Back on gluten for 2.5 months, he wasnt as bad on the gluten as we thought he would be and in May went for a bowel biopsy which was negative. Now he cant eat veges, potatoes, meat, rice, fruits. He gets irritable, agro, constipated, broken sleeps if he does eat them. At the moment all he seems to be able to tolerate is Bread and Frommage Frais (yoghurt). Could it be the bread making him not be able to eat other foods although he is a HAPPY CONTENTED boy on the bread and has no problems? We are just totally confused and at our wits end.

Answer:

People who are sensitive to gluten will typically have diarrhea, may be anemic and in children won't grow well because they're not absorbing nutrients because of the damaged lining of their bowel. I'm not quite sure what's going on with your grandson. You mention a lot of abdominal pain, is he also having diarrhea? Any vomiting? Also, the best way to tell if someone is sensitive to gluten is to have a bowel biopsy while they've been ingesting gluten. If it is negative and they've been ingesting gluten, it's less likely to be celiac sprue.

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Response by:

Julia Gore Thornton, MD Julia Gore Thornton, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University