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Is Celiac Disease More Common in Children?

Is it True that Children are More Likely to Have Celiac Disease?

A research study out of Spain found that children were five times more likely to have celiac disease than adults.

That’s interesting. On one hand it would seem to make no sense, and on the other hand it is a fair warning that I believe we should all heed.

Is Celiac Disease Becoming More Common?

Here’s my interpretation:

First of all, there has never been any evidence that celiac disease is reversible. So extrapolating that the child with celiac somehow becomes an adult without the disease is definitely false, based on the knowledge we currently have.

So let’s look at another possibility: could it be that due to “something”, the rate of celiac is actually increasing? Recent research has shown that while we used to consider celiac as rare, the percentages currently being put forth by researchers are between one and four percent, putting the disease squarely in the “common” category.

Do Less Healthy Intestines Predispose Us to More Celiac?

Now what could that “something” be? Dr. Alessio Fasano from the University of Maryland’s Celiac Research Center tells us that our increased use of toxins, drugs and poor diet has created a milieu or environment in our intestine that makes us more and more susceptible to altering our genetic expression in a negative fashion.

He has stated that while a healthy small intestine can keep a celiac gene “turned off”, an unhealthy small intestine is fully capable of “turning on” that gene, which results in an intolerance to gluten.

It’s my opinion that this study is a red flag showing that the health of small intestines in Spain is no better than it is in the U.S.

What You Can Do

Some steps we need to take are:

1)  Consume more organic fruits and vegetables that provide healthy antioxidants and fiber to heal and replenish good bacteria in the intestine. Women need 7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, men need 9 and children need between 5 and 7 depending on their age and activity level. The percentage of us that accomplish this task is pitifully low.

2) Reduce our exposure to drugs, toxins and chemicals as much as possible. E.g., eliminating high fructose corn sweeteners and artificial sweeteners would be an easy first step.

3) Eliminate dairy products from your diet (organic butter is fine, it has little to no protein solids making it have a low sensitivity).

4) Stay hydrated. The body needs water to detoxify and many of us are dehydrated making the elimination of toxins more difficult.

5) See a clinician who can adequately evaluate for the presence of hidden infections. The intestine will never heal when an unhandled infectious organism is present.

The above list could be longer, but the point is clear. Our lifestyle is putting us at risk for increased disease—including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disease, including celiac disease.

I am convinced that if we take these steps we would all enjoy greater health. I don’t know if we could get to the level of perfection such that all those with celiac disease could keep those genes “turned off” for life, but it does sound like a lofty goal to strive for—and it definitely couldn’t hurt.

Please contact me should you have any questions or need any assistance.

We see patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to help.

To your good health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

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