Most of us have heard of the “classic” symptoms for children with undiagnosed celiac disease — distended belly, diarrhea, vomiting/stomach pain, failure to thrive/weight loss — in fact, that’s what my daughter had. But this research makes me wonder if our children’s classic symptoms are only considered “classic” because that’s what doctors are told to look for.
Research on Symptoms and Nutrition of Celiac Children
Researchers from Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand were investigating the “nutritional status of children with celiac”. In the publication Acta Paediatricia last month, an article revealed how the doctors investigated whether children with celiac disease were under- or overnourished when they were diagnosed. Of the 25 children with celiac researchers found “…8.7% were wasted, 4.2% were stunted and 20.8% overweight, although none were obese.” In the classic symptoms scenario, I have found many doctors and the general public believe that only people who are “wasting” or “stunted” or “failure to thrive” — read skinny — have celiac disease. But indeed people who are overweight also have it.
As this research concluded “Children with CD more commonly present with atypical symptoms than with classical features. Variations in nutrition (under to overnutrition) may be seen at diagnosis, without relationship to the presence of symptoms.”
Why you can be any weight and have celiac
Sure the effects of celiac disease can affect your weight. If your symptoms are continuous diarrhea and vomiting, you’re bound to be thin and possibly under weight. But again, these all go with the “classic symptoms” idea that only people with diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and who are under weight are candidates for celiac disease.
But isn’t it possible that while undiagnosed celiac is still damaging your gut, if it’s manifesting its symptoms in you in the form of brittle bones, lack of concentration, fatigue, anemia, organ damage and hair loss (all considered atypical symptoms), you could be in your target weight, overweight or even obese because of your lifestyle — just like anyone else.
That’s my theory. I haven’t found the research to back it up. But I did tackle this topic with additional sources in a post last May.