Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease

Posted on April 22nd, 2015 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Celiac Disease, Symptoms | Comments Off on Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease

Pregnancy Photo by Ben EarwickerI have always felt lucky that I began a gluten-free diet two years before I became pregnant with my children. Although it wasn’t easy for me to get pregnant, by the time I did, my body had healed significantly from the effects of gluten that could have led to serious complications like miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight or even stillbirth.

Important nutritional deficiencies (of zinc, selenium, iron and folate) associated with undiagnosed celiac disease may be partially to blame for complications in pregnancy. I was severely anemic before my celiac diagnosis and shudder to think how the lack of iron would have affected my baby.

A new study published in the Annals of Gastroenterology confirms prior research on how celiac disease affects pregnancy by concluding that compared with women in the general population, women with undiagnosed celiac disease have significant increases in spontaneous abortions (miscarriage), preterm delivery and delayed menarche (beginning of menstruation), resulting in fewer successful pregnancies.

Here are the points made by the researchers of this study:

  • Significantly fewer women with celiac disease who tried to become pregnant had successful delivery of one or more pregnancies, suggesting that women with celiac may have a significantly lower rate of fertility.
  • A significantly higher number of spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) occurred in women with celiac compared to controls, with 85% of them occurring before beginning a gluten-free diet.
  • Women with untreated celiac disease are at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.
  • Women with celiac disease have a higher prevalence of preterm deliveries (premature babies).
  • Undiagnosed celiac disease should be considered in patients with recurrent complications of pregnancy, and these women should be given blood tests to detect celiac disease.
  • (This is my point I am adding: even if negative for celiac disease, consider getting tested for gluten sensitivity or go on a gluten-free diet — gluten sensitivity can cause a myriad of health problems.)

As I mentioned above, these findings are not necessarily new — the study mentions much prior research conducted in this area. Alice Bast, the founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) has been sharing this information for years. By the time she discovered she had celiac, she had suffered through the trauma of delivering a full-term stillbirth, multiple miscarriages and a baby born at only 3 pounds. You can read more about Alice’s story here and here.

I encourage you to read the full study I have summarized above: Increased rates of pregnancy complications in women with celiac disease and please pass it along to anyone you know who is having complications with fertility or pregnancy. Feel free to share your own stories here to help others.


Gluten-free diet leads to remission of fibromyalgia in new study

Posted on April 18th, 2014 by Alison | Posted in Autoimmune Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Symptoms | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

In 2008, I wrote a post theorizing the connection between fibromyalgia and gluten. At that time I could find no published medical evidence of this connection, but comments from readers (over 200 of them) confirmed my belief, that many people with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (FM) may really have celiac disease (CD) or gluten-sensitivity and that a gluten-free diet would alleviate some, if not all, of the symptoms. In many cases, it may not be just gluten, but other food intolerance as well.

I am pleased to see a new study out of Spain that examined 20 patients with fibromyalgia who tested negative for celiac disease but that got better on a gluten-free diet. They concluded at the end of the 16 month study that

remarkable clinical improvement can be achieved with a gluten-free diet in patients with FM, even if CD has been ruled out, suggesting that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be an underlying treatable cause of FM syndrome

They found in their study that

The level of widespread chronic pain improved dramatically for all patients; for 15 patients, chronic widespread pain was no longer present, indicating remission of FM.

Fifteen patients returned to work or normal life.

In three patients who had been previously treated in pain units with opioids, these drugs were discontinued. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, migraine, and depression also improved together with pain.

Two patients, both with oral aphthae, went into complete remission for psoriatic arthritis and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis.

For some patients, the clinical improvement after starting the gluten-free diet was striking and observed after only a few months; for other patients, improvement was very slow and was gradually observed over many months of follow-up.

For eight patients, the intake of gluten was followed by clinical worsening, which subsided after returning to a strict gluten-free diet.

You can download the entire published study here: Fibromyalgia and non‑celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia
fibromyalgia

If you or someone you know is suffering from fibromyalgia, consider celiac disease or gluten sensitivity as the cause of the symptoms. Trust me, a change in diet is a small price to pay for feeling better!


Gluten and skin diseases

Posted on June 19th, 2012 by Alison | Posted in Autoimmune Disease, Celiac Disease, Symptoms | Read 7 Comments - Add Your Own »

The association between celiac disease and the skin condition Dermatitis Herpetiformis has been understood for quite some time, but a newly published article outlines the associations between gluten and other skin manifestations. The article “Celiac Disease and Dermatologic Manifestations“, put out by the Division of Dermatology in Florence, Italy, concludes that anyone suffering from psoriasis, alopecia areata, chronic urticaria, Hereditary angioneurotic edema, atopic dermatitis, or Cutaneous Vasculitis be screened for Celiac Disease.

They also reviewed other skin diseases for their possible relationship to gluten, and in the conclusion they state: “Although in none of these cases has been effectively demonstrated a pathogenetic link between the diseases, some of these associations are more common. Particularly lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, vitiligo, Behc¸et disease, linear IgA bullous dermatosis, and also both skin and mucosal manifestations of lichen. Besides the importance of the diagnosis of DH [Dermatitis Herpetiformis], that is virtually always associated to CD and can be considered a specific marker of the disease, even the identification of the other dermatological conditions associated with gluten sensitive enteropathy could be significant, highlighting the importance of a close collaboration between gastroenterologists and dermatologists. In fact,many skin diseases reported in this paper are actually more common in the celiacs or show atypical clinical presentation often associated with resistance to standard therapies in those patients.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from a skin condition, think about gluten. This article focuses on celiac disease, but as those of us in the gluten-free community know, these same symptoms apply to people with gluten sensitivity.

The entire review article can be accessed here: Celiac Disease and Dermatologic Manifestations.

Please leave comments about your experience with gluten and skin.


People with celiac disease have increased bone fracture risk and other bone problems

Posted on January 9th, 2012 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Symptoms | Read 4 Comments - Add Your Own »

For anyone with bone density problems, bone fractures, osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia, bone pain or any other bone-related problems, consider getting tested for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. This is a common symptom that often gets overlooked.  Two recent studies confirm the negative effects of celiac disease on bone health.

A case study of a 29-year old man with no gastrointestinal complaints came in with back pain. It was discovered that he had a compression fracture in his spine, and he reported that he had several bone fractures as a child. Tests revealed low bone density, but that vitamin D levels were normal, despite villous atrophy (damage to his intestines, often preventing the ability to absorb nutrients).

The authors of the report stated that “Celiac disease is often a cause of low bone density and patients with celiac disease have an increased fracture risk, a hazard ratio of 1.43 or 43% increased risk when compared to age-matched healthy populations.” They concluded, “We emphasize considering celiac disease in all patients with idiopathic [arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause] low bone density even if vitamin D and PTH [parathyroid hormone] levels are normal.”

Another study submitted by doctors in Amsterdam profiled a 29-year old woman bound to a wheelchair who had progressive bone pain, short stature, difficulty walking, scoliosis, softening of the bones, low bone mineral density and poor dental condition. Testing showed that she had villous atrophy, antibodies against gluten, and extremely low vitamin D and low calcium, and was deficient in several other vitamins. She had already been diagnosed with celiac disease at age 17, but apparently wasn’t following the gluten-free diet or was at least getting some amount of gluten exposure. The doctors treated her for 14 days with intravenous calcium and vitamin D, and “the symptoms of the patient rapidly improved; the bone pain decreased, muscle strength and physical performance improved markedly, and she was able to walk unassisted.” Incredible! After 5 1/2 months they found that her bone mineral density had indeed improved.

Have you had bone problems as a result of celiac disease or gluten intolerance? Are you looking for answers to your bone-related health issues? Leave a comment so that your experience can help others or others can help you!

Related reading: Gluten and bone health