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Ask the Doc: When should I test my baby for celiac disease?

Posted on April 22nd, 2008 by Alison Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

questionmarkgreen1.jpgQ. When my husband was 17 he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and then just 2 weeks ago his father was diagnosed as well. I know there is a good chance our 14 weeks old baby girl could possibly have it as well, however, I don’t know when we need to get her tested. At three weeks old she lost a whole pound while breast feeding and our doctor suggested putting her on formula. She has been putting on weight, but not much. She weighed 5 lbs 6 oz after losing weight at three months and as of last week she weighs 9 lbs 6 oz even though she eats 4 oz of formula every hour and a half. Not being able to gain weight is only one of many symptoms our little girl has. Even our doctor says she has a lot of flatulence for one so young, her bowel movements have never been regular, one day she has acidy diarrhea and then she will be completely constipated the next. She is also very fatigued taking 4 or 5 two or three hour naps during the day and then sleep a full nine hours every night since she was 3 weeks old. I just want to make sure that we get her tested early enough to see if she has celiac or not before she has to suffer like my husband and father in law did for so long. So when can I have her tested?

A. There is a strong possibility that your baby has celiac genes, but, with a lack of exposure to gluten, it is unlikely that this is a cause unless you have been ingesting gluten during breast feeding. Switching to formula is a good idea: be sure that it is gluten-free. Testing the baby for celiac should include HLA DQ2 DQ8 genes, and be done very soon.

Health and happiness,
Dr. Aron

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  1. I would like to add a couple of things:

    If you were eating gluten, it could take a while for it to get out of the baby’s system.

    Also, there is a possibility that your baby is reacting to dairy (either alone or in addition to gluten). Talk to your doctor about a gluten-free casein-free formula (like Neocate), or if you are still breastfeeding, change your own diet to be gluten and dairy-free.

  2. “Switching to formula is a good idea”

    Why?? Why not recommend a gluten free diet for mom and examine breastfeeding management?

  3. A mother with a severe case of Celiac Disease doesn’t absorb the proper nutrients herself, thus will not pass along in her breastmilk what the baby needs. Breastfeeding is very important but should be supplemented with a gluten free formula to ensure proper growth to your baby. Mother’s please listen to this advice I could have lost my son if I solely breastfed. Since most doctors don’t have a clue about CD you must take precautions for your wee one yourself.

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