A new report in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, says that a saliva test for Celiac disease has been found to work almost as well as a blood test in diagnosing the disorder. Celiac disease is caused by a reaction to the gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, fluid retention, mouth ulcers, cramping, gas, bloating, and weakness. Out of 4,048 children using saliva samples that were tested, 32 were found to test positive for tTG-IgA antibodies, while nine had borderline levels. Even with borderline levels, an allergic reaction to gluten can wreak havoc on a child’s world.
My daughter was just diagnosed with the disease last summer. After complaining of stomach pain, bloating, and an upset stomach for months on end, and after being told she was fine and maybe the complaints were exaggerated, we changed doctors. It was our last pediatric endocrinologist who tested for the disorder. She had also diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 9. Some doctors also believe a correlation exists between thyroid disorders and Celiac disease; both are autoimmune disorders.
Adjusting to a gluten free diet was not as difficult as you might think. By the time Kate was diagnosed, she had felt sick every day. She had an extremely irritable stomach and was doubled over in pain a few times a week. She had migraine headaches and severe, visible bloating. It got to the point that she didn’t want to go out a lot because she lived in fear of an attack and felt so sick much of the time, which was so unlike her normal happy-go-lucky self. She was so relieved to finally find out what was causing the symptoms that she would have eaten or not eaten anything at that point to stop the symptoms.
I researched the internet to find out what foods didn’t contain gluten and what foods did. So many foods surprised me by having hidden gluten, and they were foods I didn’t expect, like salad dressings and veggie patties.
The good news is that there are so many gluten free foods on the market now. I buy mostly carbohydrates that are rice based: pancakes, waffles, bread, and pasta. We even made gluten free cookies for Christmas and gluten free pizza. There are countless, delicious gluten free recipes online and in the bookstores.
Living with a gluten free diet is definitely doable, even for a picky eater, but suffering with the repercussions of a gluten allergy is something I wouldn’t wish on any child. The new saliva test is great news for anyone with symptoms, especially kids who are afraid of blood tests.