I am a thankful mom. Thankful that Emma was diagnosed as young as she was. Emma knows nothing different than a gluten-free diet because she’s basically been eating it since she started finger foods. Now new research says the age at which the child is diagnosed often determines their quality of life down the road.

Quality of Life Research

Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology reported on a new study (released this month) where 283 adolescents with celiac disease and 82 “healthy, age-matched controls” were given an assessment commonly used in many other studies to determine the quality of life of individuals. The Inventory of Life Quality in Children and Adolescents “assesses quality of life in relation to nine items, including school, family, physical health and psychological health.”  Here’s what that assessment found:

“Adolescents with celiac disease who did not comply with the gluten-free diet reported a greater number of problems, a poorer quality of life and a greater feeling of ill-being than those with the condition who adhered to a gluten-free diet and healthy controls.”

“Adolescents who were diagnosed as having celiac disease at the age of 6 years or older reported a poorer quality of life than did those diagnosed before 6 years of age…The authors concluded that a diagnosis of celiac disease before the patient reaches 6 years of age benefits quality of life.”

The research also mentioned what many of us already know, that a devoted following to the gluten-free diet brings a better quality of life than for those who don’t follow the diet.  Researchers also said a celiac diagnosis of  people showing symptoms “…could [eventually] lead to improved body composition, nutritional status, bone mineral density and reduced fracture risk in children, adults and adolescents.”

Researchers also questioned whether population-screening programs for celiac disease are needed to catch celiac disease in the asymptomatic population earlier. The future of that possibility is very unclear at this point.

Pushing for earlier diagnosis

With so many positives that apparently come from the earliest diagnosis possible of celiac disease, why isn’t more done in the medical community to educate the masses and test for celiac?

I know I have talked about this before, so I’m not going to harp on it. But wouldn’t it even be nice for parents to be able to approach a pediatrician and have a discussion about celiac testing without getting a look like you’re totally nuts? Of course this presumes that the general population even knows about celiac disease. And that’s a whole different blog post…. Which comes first…the chicken or the egg…I am going to stop here before I launch into a rant….

Spread the word people!

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