Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kids, Gluten, and Growth (or lack there of)

It is sad really.  A supposed "health food" could be stunting the growth of our children.  Wheat, especially whole wheat, has been espoused as a necessary and nourishing part of any diet.  It supposedly is a good source of fiber, minerals, and carbohydrates.  The problem with it is that it also has anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of many critical nutrients consumed in conjunction with the wheat.  One widely studied anti-nutrient is gluten.

Just recently I have heard 3 cases of young children who have been told they are not growing at a normal rate.  There could be a myriad of factors causing this but one that is often overlooked by healthcare professionals is gluten intolerance.  Gluten intolerance is way more common than many would even dream of.  Personally I feel gluten causes too many problems for it to be considered more than a rare part of anyone's diet.

Well, now I am going to get off my soapbox and present some articles and studies for consideration in regard to gluten and stunted growth in children.
"One surefire symptom of celiac disease in children is stunted growth. This is caused by the malfunction of the absorption process of nutrients in the small intestines.  This symptom manifests in the slow weight gain of the affected child as well as the slow growth, either horizontally or vertically of the child." Article Link
"In conclusion, the GFD (gluten free diet) leads to a normalisation of body mass (evaluated as weight-for-height) and a substantial improvement in height-for-age" Study Link
 "We conclude that the prevalence of celiac disease is high in patients with ISS (unexplained shortness) and it is important to test all children with ISS for celiac disease by measuring serologic markers and performing an intestinal biopsy." Study Link
 "A gluten-free diet (GFD) generally leads to a rapid catch-up in growth and to normalization of the pituitary function." Study Link
"One of the most common extra-intestinal manifestations of CD (celiac disease) is short stature, and in some patients, short stature may be the presenting and only symptom of the disease, making the diagnosis of CD challenging. Impaired growth in children with CD results mainly from nutritional deficits, and withdrawal of gluten from the diet is frequently associated with a marked improvement of linear growth." Study Link
"In conclusion it can be said that is very important to diagnose celiac disease as soon as possible because the introduction of gluten-free diet prevents the pathological conditions mucosal lesion of small intestine and the physical retardation of children." Study Link 
"Growth and laboratory abnormalities usually improve after introduction of a GFD (gluten free diet)." Study Link
"Gluten-free diet led to rapid increase in weight and height score in patients <or=5 years old at the time of diagnosis (Group 1). Increment in height SD score was the highest in patients 5-10 years old (Group 2) at the end of 4 years. Early diagnosis and good adhesion to a gluten-free diet are essential for long-term growth in CD. Celiac societies and the mass media must expand an effort to educate the community regarding the symptoms of the disease." Study Link
As you can see there is a ton of evidence that gluten can cause stunted growth in children.  It's obviously not the only cause but it should definitely be ruled out.  Parents of children who aren't growing at a normal rate should take it upon themselves to have their child tested for gluten sensitivity.  It may just help them avoid drugs that are costly and very likely have side effects.  The most accurate diagnostic available today is the Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity & Autoimmunity blood test from Cyrex Labs.  Doctors are doing their best with the info they have but unfortunately most of that info is coming from drug companies who want to treat the symptoms rather than fix the cause of the problem.



Jo's Health Corner/ said...

We've been grain free (Paleo) for a while and I noticed that my youngest son has become taller in a very short time. We ate a "healthy" diet of whole grains before and I didn't see any typical signs of gluten sensitivity in my youngest. Not until I removed the grains did I notice that his hair as well as his body started growing faster than before.Now after going grain free do I realize that he thinks and concentrate better..It is interesting to compare before and after..Mentally I see a bigger difference in my youngest than my two older so it is obvious that he was more sensitive..

Chuck said...

now that you mention it, my hair does grow ridiculously fast.

thank you for the feedback. glad to see your family has experienced one of the many positive effects of eating right. although the growth spurt would surely be viewed as pure coincidence by the mostly nutrition ignorant medical community.

Jo's Health Corner/ said...

My husband and I are natural practitioners so we don't share our improvements with the medical community anymore. You're right, the medical community would say it is a coincidence. They never want to look into fact that nutrition can reverse many conditions.

Sarah said...

Thanks for gathering these studies together. We're starting the whole family on a gluten-free/dairy-free diet to see especially the effects on one of my children, who has skin sensitivities and markedly slower growth (with no other health problems).

Chuck said...


glad you found it usefull. i would hate to see people resort to medication when a diet change would do the trick.

Molly said...

Do any of the articles say how long and how strict the GF diet needs to be? For instance when trying this with our 2 year old for jut a few weeks so far and then he got a hold of something with gluten, does that undo what we just did for 2 weeks!? We were thinking that we need to do this diet for a long period of time but it felt defeating that after 2 weeks he had gluten. Just curious if the studies say if the intestines can still mostly heal or be on their way to healing even if a mishap occurs occasionally.

True Feminist said...

Thank-you. Love this.

Anti Caste said...

This is not a personal attack. I feel like I learned a lot from reading your blog and illegitimate/biased links. I have also learned from the negativity you've displayed towards anyone who might disagree with your propaganda.

Doesn't it feel sad when you have to falsify all this to prove nothing but your false delusions?

"Do not make personal attacks." Just that alone proves that you will delete this post. You're just too afraid of anything that might people think about your brain diarrhea twice.