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Intussusception and Gluten – Is There a Connection?

Telescoping Intestines

BabyIntussusception is a condition that occurs when one part of the intestine telescopes over another part (imagine how the pieces of a sliding telescope collapse over each other). The problem with this condition is that it can become life threatening. Early warning signs of the condition can include:
  • nausea
  • Vomiting
  • abdominal pain and cramping
  • blood and mucus in the stool

Dangers of This Problem

Because these symptoms can also be present in gastroenteritis, the two are commonly confused. Intussusception can become dangerous if left undiagnosed because it can lead to ischemia (lack of blood flow) to parts of the intestine causing the tissue to die. A recent research study performed at the Columbia University Medical Center fount that this condition was much more common in those with celiac disease, even when there was an absence of malnutrition noted in the patients. An excerpt from the abstract is below:
“Our aim was to investigate the frequency of intussusception among children with celiac disease. METHODS:: A patient database containing children with biopsy-proven celiac disease was reviewed, in addition to radiology records contained in a hospital-maintained clinical data repository. RESULTS:: Of 254 children with biopsy-proven celiac disease and complete records available for review, abdominal imaging was performed in 21%, mainly due to abdominal pain. Among children with celiac disease, 1.2% experienced an intussusception less than 9 months prior to their diagnosis with celiac disease. Among children seen at our institution in the same time period, 0.07% experienced an intussusception. The majority of those children with celiac disease who were found to have intussusception had no evidence of nutritional deficit at the time of intussusception. Intussusception was not identified in any children with celiac disease who had been treated with a gluten-free diet. CONCLUSIONS:: Intussusception was far more common among children in our cohort with untreated celiac disease than in the general pediatric population simultaneously seen at our center. The diagnosis of celiac disease should be considered in children with intussusception, even in the absence of signs of nutritional compromise.”
Source: J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012 Jul 23.

Many Diseases Linked To Gluten

This research study again brings to light the problem that many diseases are linked to gluten intolerance and sensitivity. Doctors need to be up to speed on what these conditions are. Knowing these relationships will allow doctors to better be able to make the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity. For a comprehensive list of diseases linked to gluten, watch this video. If you suspect that you might have gluten sensitivity, take this short online quiz. Always looking out for you, Dr. O – The Gluten Free Warrior

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