If you throw a child’s birthday party there’s a good chance one or more parent may ask if any of the food you’re serving is gluten-free. That’s because many children have
Gluten Intolerance vs. Celiac Disease
It’s important to know that gluten intolerance and celiac disease are not the same. Someone who is gluten intolerant has digestive or other problems when they eat food that has gluten in it. Gluten is typically found in wheat, barley, and rye. It can also be found in a laundry list of foods such as pasta, cakes, bread, and crackers.
A child who has celiac disease is suffering from an autoimmune disorder that can affect and damage their small intestine. It’s often an inherited disease. In either condition, it’s important to stay away from foods that contain gluten in order to remain healthy.
How Do I Know if My Child is Gluten Intolerant?
There are signs that may signal your child has a gluten intolerance. Some are very similar to symptoms of celiac disease. Keep an eye out for these conditions that may trigger a call to the pediatrician:
Bloating can make your child feel like he has the worst tummy ache ever. The belly feels extremely full and gassy after eating and just downright uncomfortable.
2. Diarrhea or Constipation
Either extreme can be a sign of gluten intolerance. If you’re not sure if your child’s symptoms are due to gluten or are just part of a stomach bug, monitor the problems after your child eats certain foods to see if you can detect a pattern. Write everything down so you have information to show the doctor.
3. Extremely Smelly Poop or Oily Poop
While no one likes to talk about it, your child’s poop can give you signs for a gluten intolerance. Poop that looks oily or is extremely smelly could indicate a problem. This can be due to the fact that their body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly.
4. Trouble Concentrating
luten intolerance can trigger what’s referred to as “brain fog”. Your child may be extremely tired, although they’ve slept, and may forget things and have trouble focusing.
5. Chronic Headaches or Migraines
You don’t typically hear kids complaining about chronic headaches or migraines. If your child does, call the pediatrician. This could be a sign of gluten intolerance.
6. Numb or Painful Joints
This also falls under the category of things that are not typically found in kids. While it could indicate another health issue, it can also be a symptom of gluten intolerance.
7. Skin Problems
This goes beyond acne that pre-teens and teens may experience. Skin problems associated with gluten intolerance include rashes and itchy elbows and knees.
8. Mood Swings & Depression
A study has shown that teens who are sensitive to gluten are also more prone to depression.
9. Unexplained Weight Loss
Children are supposed to grow and gain weight as they get older. If you notice your child isn’t and is losing weight unexpectedly, call the pediatrician.
Getting sick to your stomach after eating a meal high in gluten could be a sign your child is gluten intolerant. Keep track of what they ate before getting sick to see if you can detect a pattern.
If your intuition tells you that your child may be gluten intolerant, call your pediatrician and explain what’s been going on. They’ll likely call you in and do an exam. They’ll ask about family history and may even order blood tests to rule out celiac disease or a wheat allergy.
You may be referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist who will likely suggest a gluten-free diet to determine if there is a gluten intolerance.
Gluten intolerance is not uncommon, so don’t worry if that’s the case. It will just mean a shift in your child’s diet so he can feel like a kid again.