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Gluten - beyond coeliac disease

Media Release for immediate use, May 2008

Article for COELIAC AWARENESS WEEK


Gluten - beyond coeliac disease.

Is it making you sick tired and grumpy?


Worldwide research shows that coeliac disease (a gut disease caused by gluten) affects one in a hundred people. But few are aware of their plight. Sadly, most people who are affected are unaware that their life is being severely constrained by gluten. Most have come to accept their low levels of energy and grown accustomed to their symptoms.

As a paediatric gastroenterologist Dr Ford sees hundreds of families who suspect they have a child with coeliac disease and diagnoses many of these children with coeliac disease. However, he is frustrated at the attitude of most medical practitioners who remain reluctant to accept that gluten can do more harm than just cause the gut damage of coeliac disease. This is despite the presenting clinical evidence of their patients. Dr Ford says “The medical profession has been indoctrinated with this simplistic message that gluten can only cause gut damage – this is wrong.”

Consequently, mothers often feel that their health problems are being ignored and their concerns just brushed aside. Parents say that their children are prescribed drugs for their symptoms, rather than endorsing easy dietary changes. They also report a reluctance of their doctor to order the gluten blood tests that can help to make the diagnosis.


For instance Story from Kate


Kate says “I really don't know where to start. I have been banging my head against a brick wall for so long with my son’s problems. I have had him tested for gluten issues (twice) and his IgG-gliadin came back high both times.


We have seen multiple doctors and they all say he isn't gluten intolerant but has encopresis (unintended fecal soiling). This to me seems crazy as when we went completely gluten-free his stools return to normal, no more tummy aches, no more dark circles under his eyes, no little sores on his skin and his attitude is nicer. Plus, I am a huge believer that there is a reason for everything and this is not happening because he is naughty or lazy as he tries so hard for this not to happen and his 'accidents' tend to just leak. I feel like there must be a reason why this is happening!”


Dr Ford says that these ailing children who are gluten-affected have a wide range of troubles such as eczema, tiredness, lethargy, constipation, diarrhoea, sore tummy, fussy eating, slow growth, behaviour problems, learning concerns, headaches, gastric reflux and are often generally run down. His role is to solve their problems and help get these upset children well again.

He says “Fifteen years ago I also used to treat these children just for their symptoms. I did not know what caused these symptoms and followed the standard protocol. They had general childhood complaints that, according to my training, their family just had to put up with the best they could.”

He goes on to say “My career has been based on medical research. I was one of the first medics in New Zealand to investigate food allergy. When I started to do gluten blood tests on every child that came to my clinic, I was staggered to find that 75% of these ‘general childhood complaints’ was related to an intolerance to gluten. My research shows that 80% of these children dramatically improve on a gluten-free diet.”


Rapidly accumulating evidence shows that intolerance to gluten is creating a massive health problem throughout the Western world, however, woefully few people are aware of the catalogue of harm that gluten is causing.


ENDS

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