Signs of Gluten Intolerance in Toddlers

child with gluten intolerance eating vegetables

Learning About the Signs of Gluten Intolerance in Toddlers

Seeing the signs of gluten intolerance in toddlers is a medical condition that has been linked to the consumption of foods that contain gluten. If left untreated, it slowly deteriorates the small intestine, making it difficult for the body to absorb vital nutrients. It can also cause a lot of pain and discomfort in toddlers when digesting food.

Glutenin, more commonly known as gluten, is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. This means that anyone who has an allergic reaction to glutenin should refrain from consuming foods that contain this protein. This can be rather difficult because wheat and wheat by products are found in countless foods and ingredients used in cooking.

Allergy Symptoms – Skin Problems

Signs of gluten intolerance in toddlers can affect the skin in a variety of a different ways. Normally, skin symptoms will develop shortly after consuming foods that contain gluten. Some may experience a hot itchy skin rash; this type of rash is normally comprised of small red bumps that develop anywhere on the body. Patches of eczema are also common.

Eczema is small red and dry patches on the skin. It’s normally extremely itchy, but this can be remedied with an over-the-counter cortisone cream. Hives are also common to food allergies and this includes allergies to gluten. Hives range in size and normally form a raised red plateau on the skin. They are normally hot to the touch and itch excessively. Hives will normally go away themselves within 24 hours, but cold compresses can help ease the symptoms of the hives until they disappear.

Gluten Allergy Symptoms – Stomach Problems

Stomach symptoms are common with toddlers and the signs of gluten intolerance; the difference being those who actually have a gluten allergy will show more severe stomach signs. It’s common for gluten to induce vomiting and/or diarrhea in people who are allergic and it’s important to keep your body hydrated.

If you can’t keep fluids down at all, it may be necessary to visit the emergency room so that the doctors can provide a saline drip for hydration. Stomach cramps and bloating are also common; however, these are common signs of a gluten intolerance as well.

Gluten Allergy Symptoms – Respiratory Problems

Like with other food allergies, an allergic reaction in a toddler to gluten can cause respiratory problems. Gluten allergies can cause shortness of breath which may not be deadly, but it can also cause anaphylaxis which restricts breathing to a point where you could suffocate. It’s important to remember that if your toddler experience any problems breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Autoimmune Disorder

Signs of gluten intolerance in toddlers may develop if they continue to eat gluten-containing foods. This is due to the fact that celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system misidentifies a mixture of proteins that are found in gluten as harmful invaders. As a result, the immune system releases antibodies to fight “the invaders“.

This leads to inflammation of the small intestine which in turn causes gluten allergy symptoms. They may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, ulcers in the mouth and a variety of other gastrointestinal problems.

It is also possible to develop non-gastrointestinal problems such as dermatitis herpetiformis causing an itchy skin rash, depression, anemia (deficiency of red blood cells), alopecia (hair loss), follicular keratosis (skin problem), inadequate production of tooth enamel, bone problems including osteoporosis (loss of bone density), arthritis (inflammation of the joints) and unexplained weight loss.

Gluten Free Diet

Signs of gluten intolerance in toddlers subside when the patient eliminates gluten-containing foods from his or her diet. However, if the disease is not discovered early it can lead to malnutrition and further weight loss because the chronic inflammation of the small intestine causes damage to the intestinal villi, small finger-like structures in the intestines which play the key role in absorption of nutrients.

The intestinal villi become shorter and flatter if the patient continues to eat foods that contain gluten and absorb fewer and fewer nutrients. As a result, the patient continues to lose weight despite having a normal or increased appetite.

The involves removing all wheat, rye, and barley products from the diet. including breads, crackers, pastas, cookies, and pies. It is very important that patents be aware of processed foods that are known to contain gluten. Products such as canned soups, ice cream, salad dressings and instant coffee are notorious for containing wheat flour.

Because toddlers with gluten intolerance also tend to be lactose intolerant, dairy products that contain lactose should be avoided. Upon remission and under a doctor’s watch, it may be possible to reintroduce dairy products into the diet

It is not unusual for people with gluten allergy symptoms who are on a gluten free diet to fall short on fiber consumption. That is because in a normal diet, much of the fiber comes from wheat products. Add to this, most gluten free diet products tend to be highly processed and therefore low on fiber.

Have you noticed signs of gluten intolerance in your toddler?

If you or your child develops gluten allergy symptoms, you should visit your doctor. A blood test will determine whether the immune system is releasing antibodies to fight gluten. If the blood test is positive, the next step is an endoscopy (a procedure during which a gastroenterologist inserts a flexible tube with a camera through the mouth) to see the inside of the small intestine.

Testing for Gluten Intolerance

Gastroenterologist will probably also make a biopsy (take a small sample of the tissue) and then look the sample under a microscope to see whether there are any signs of damage caused by celiac disease.

If all the tests confirm gluten allergy, your doctor will recommend strict avoidance of all gluten-containing foods because at the moment of writing, no medications or treatments exist for the disease. If your toddler is experiencing gluten allergy symptoms a doctor should be the next call.

If your toddler has recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease, it’s natural to feel scared, apprehensive and upset.

It’s easy to imagine worst case scenarios, or to feel confused about how to change your diet. Here are six tips to help ease the initial period after your diagnosis.

Tips for Toddlers Newly Diagnosed with Celiac Disease:

  1. Firstly, you shouldn’t feel that you can’t be sad or upset about not being able to eat your favorite foods anymore. This gets easier over time, but to start with there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s going to be a difficult process.
  2. The internet is a wonderful resource for anyone with Celiac disease. Try to read as much as possible about the condition, including the science behind why it happens. If you understand the disease, even if it’s just the basics, you’ll find it a lot easier to minimize its impact on your life. It’s important to make sure you only use reliable sources though – sites such as WebMD and NHS.co.uk are good places to start.
  3. There are also a number of books that provide very useful information for newly diagnosed Celiac disease sufferers. Two of these include Gluten Free Diet by Shelley Case and Celiac Disease for Dummies
  4. While the internet is a good place to start for information, it’s also essential to get advice from a Registered Dietitian. He or she can provide you with professional advice, along with tips and guidelines for how to read nutrition labels. It’s fine to start by only eating products with a visible gluten-free label, but it’s also important to understand why a type of food is or isn’t suitable for your toddler to avoid symptoms of gluten intolerance.
  5. Instead of thinking of all the foods your toddler can’t have, try to think of some meals that you can experiment with. This is difficult to start with, but you’d be surprised at the variety of gluten free meals you can cook at home.
  6. Everyone responds to foods differently, and people with Celiac disease have different thresholds before symptoms appear. It’s important to keep track of any symptoms along with the foods that cause it. Over time, you’ll build up a list of foods you know you can tolerate, and those that tend to cause symptoms.
  7. Lastly, be careful with food and drinks that are notorious for cross contamination. Fruit juices, for example, are well known for containing gluten. Online Celiac disease forums, Our Google Plus Community and Our Facebook Wall are a great place to get information about specific products from others along with staying up to date on our reviews.

We hope you enjoyed the tips if you were newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease. We hope to provide you with tons of resources to help you figure out the best way to identify and avoid signs of gluten intolerance in toddlers!

gluten intolerance in toddlers infographic

Gluten Allergy, Intolerance & Celiac Disease

Intolerance to gluten protein can cause signs of a gluten allergy in two distinct disorders: celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Unfortunately, doctors often mistakenly dismiss gluten intolerance as having few consequences in the absence of frank celiac disease. Experts in the field of gluten intolerance, such as Dr. Stephen Wangen, have found that hundreds of health problems and signs of an allergy to gluten are connected to wheat and gluten reactions. About 10 percent of the population is reported to have some degree of gluten intolerance and about 30 million Americans are affected. This includes adults, children and toddlers.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a specific protein found in many cereal grains, particularly wheat. Gluten makes bread dough elastic and foods filling. Because it is inexpensive, it’s found in many types of foods, including frozen foods and candies. Besides being found in wheat, gluten is found in rye, barley, malt (beer products included), soy sauce, kamut, durum, semolina, bulgur, graham, and farina grains among others. Gluten is also found in hydrolyzed vegetable oils. Both gluten and wheat are sometimes found as food contaminants (that cause allergic reactions) in a variety of foods including ice cream and pet products and this is the cause of many food recalls.

Symptoms Related to Gluten Allergy & Intolerance

Gluten intolerance, which is also known as gluten sensitivity or allergy, can affect many of the body’s systems besides the digestive tract. Gluten intolerance is known to cause immune system, musculoskeletal, neurological, endocrine, metabolic, dental and dermatological problems. Gluten intolerance can also affect energy levels, cognitive ability, mood and disposition. Signs of gluten allergy can also occur, including: bloating, angry disposition, projectile vomiting, mental fog, hair loss, low bone density, cold sores, elevated liver enzymes, dental enamel defects, itching, dark circles under eyes, itching, weight loss, weight gain, and edema.

Who is Affected by an Allergy to Gluten?

People of all ages, as well as toddlers, and of all ethnicities are affected by gluten intolerance. Pets can also be affected, and many autoimmune disorders in pets, such as canine hypothyroidism, can be linked to gluten.

Gluten Allergies

Gluten allergies differ from gluten intolerance. In gluten allergies, individuals are allergic to gluten found in specific grains, such as wheat and/or barley or spelt. Symptoms include, hives, swelling of the lip, tongue, or throat and rash. Some people also become allergic to other proteins in wheat besides gluten. Gluten allergies cause elevated levels of IgE.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a specific type of gluten intolerance that destroys villi in the small intestine. In celiac disease, the villi are worn down or blunted and unable to absorb nutrients from food. This is called villous atrophy and it’s caused by immune destruction of the enzyme tissue transglutaminase. Villous atrophy can also occur in other conditions including soy intolerance. People with celiac disease have gluten intolerance, but not everyone with gluten intolerance develops celiac disease. Both celiac disease and gluten intolerance can cause severe symptoms.

People with celiac disease have endomysial and tissue transglutaminase antibodies and they may also have gliadin antibodies.

Gliadin Antibodies

Individuals who are allergic to gluten will have either or both IgG or IgA gliadin antibodies. If they’re avoiding gluten, these tests may not be positive until they resume eating gluten for several weeks. These antibodies can be detected in blood, stool, and saliva samples although blood tests are commonly used.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Gluten intolerance can affect nutrient absorption. Vitamin B12 deficiency and anemia often occur as a result. Vitamin D3, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium deficiencies are also common. Selenium deficiencies are associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders.

It can take several weeks or months of a gluten free diet before those affected with symptoms of a gluten allergy notice a difference in their health.