Can gluten stunt growth in children?
Can gluten stunt growth in children? It is well established that patients with celiac disease can have wasting and malnutrition. Many of them have a hard time putting or keeping weight on. Traditionally, the thought process behind why this occurs has been focused on chronic diarrhea, and nutritional loss due to intestinal damage. But now researchers link an autoimmune process to growth stunting in children with gluten sensitivity. The study below illustrates a newly discovered mechanism of how gluten can stunt the growth process in children by creating antibodies against the pituitary gland…
CONCLUSIONS: In this paper we have shown a remarkable prevalence of positive APA in newly diagnosed CD patients. High APA titers are associated with height impairment, likely mediated by a reduction of IGF-1, thus suggesting that autoimmune pituitary process could induce a linear-growth impairment.
Commentary on “anti-pituitary antibodies in children with newly diagnosed celiac disease: a novel finding contributing to linear growth”. [Am J Gastroenterol. 2010]
Gluten Disrupts Hormones
There are numerous studies that illustrate how gluten can impact hormones. This study identified gluten as a culprit in inducing an autoimmune reaction against the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland is responsible for the production of a number of hormones. One of them is – Growth Hormone. This study suggests that the autoimmune attack might lead to a reduction in the hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1). This hormone is critical for proper growth in children.
This is a very important finding. The walk away message is that children who are suffering with failure to thrive (FTT) or children who are not growing on track should be screened for gluten sensitivity. In my own practice, I commonly see accelerated growth in children after implementing a gluten free diet. For more on how gluten impacts children watch the following video:
Always looking out for you,
Dr. O – AKA the Gluten Free Warrior
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