Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some other grains and foods. If your child has gluten sensitivity or intolerance, your child has a reaction, such as upset stomach or gas when he eats foods that contain gluten.
Gluten sensitivity is not the same as an allergy or celiac disease. If your child has an allergy to wheat, rye, or barley, eating these foods can cause hives, swelling, dizziness, or trouble breathing. If your child has celiac disease, eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and makes it hard for your child’s intestines to absorb nutrients from food.
The exact cause of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not known.
Some people start having symptoms as children, others later in life. The symptoms vary a lot from one person to the next.
Digestive symptoms may include:
Other symptoms may happen hours or days after your child eats gluten and involve other parts of the body. These symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. There is no test for gluten sensitivity. Your child may have tests to check for other problems, such as allergies or celiac disease. These tests may include:
If these tests are normal, your provider may suggest that your child stop eating any foods that contain gluten and see if symptoms get better. If your child’s symptoms do get better, your provider may want your child to try food with gluten again to see if symptoms come back.
The only treatment for gluten sensitivity is a gluten-free diet. For most children, this diet relieves symptoms in a few weeks.
A gluten-free diet contains no wheat, barley, or rye. Because the American diet is based on grains and many processed foods contain grain-based additives, this diet can be hard to follow. You may need to work with a dietitian to help your child eat a healthy, gluten-free diet. Here are some suggestions:
Your healthcare provider may prescribe a daily gluten-free multivitamin and mineral supplement. Ask your pharmacist or call the manufacturer to find out about the ingredients in your medicine.
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.