Foods That Increase the Chances of Celiac Disease Among Children
February 11, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

Foods That Increase the Chances of Celiac Disease Among Children

اردو میں پڑھیں 

Nearly two in every hundred children born have celiac disease, which makes it one of the most common diseases among children. Celiac disease is an immune disease whereby children cannot eat gluten as it damages their small intestine. Children usually get diagnosed with the celiac disease around the age of 12 months, when they begin overconsuming foods with gluten, and start to experience symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, and constipation. The disease is not lethal, but if gluten continues to be consumed over long periods of time, then the situation can become fatal to the point where the digestive system can be permanently damaged.

Let’s look at some foods that children should avoid if they want to prevent developing celiac disease.

1. Bread

Bread contains plenty of gluten, so much that no more than one slice of bread should be consumed in a day to fulfill gluten requirements. Since the overconsumption of gluten is the leading cause of celiac disease, the dough should not be overconsumed by children at a young age. Researchers at the American Medical Association found that for every extra slice of bread a child consumes, the risk of developing celiac disease increase by nearly 10% - an alarming statistic that shows bread consumption needs to be regulated and restricted for children.

2. Bottled milk

Bottled milk is a popular alternative to breastfeeding for infants, but doctors warn against it for many reasons, one of them being that bottled milk contains traces of gluten, even though it's advertised as gluten-free. Research has shown that breastfed milk is the best way to feed a child as it's natural and entirely gluten-free, hence it reduces the chances of children developing celiac disease. Additionally, breast milk is easier for children to digest, and it helps strengthen the digestive and gut system to a better extent than bottled milk or other milk alternatives.

3. Pasta

Like bread, pasta is a food item that is high in gluten content, so feeding even two grams of pasta to a child can increase the likelihood of a child getting the celiac disease by 7%. Furthermore, pasta is hard for children to consume, as it is difficult to push down the throat and into the stomach, so it should be avoided for children below the age of three.

4. Cereal

Cereals are a popular breakfast item among kids from a young age, but most cereals contain high levels of gluten, so experts advise that they should be completely avoided until the age of 3. However, it should be considered that many cereal brands now provide gluten-free cereals, so if you want to feed cereal to children, opt for gluten-free ones. Most gluten-free cereals are made from rice, corn, or quinoa,  which makes them a good source of carbohydrates for children.

5. Desserts

Children should avoid sweet foods at a young age as they have lots of gluten. The amount of sugar in a dessert item is difficult to estimate, so it should not be consumed at all until the age of 3, as even a small bite or spoon of cake, brownie, cookie, pie, or candy can exceed the daily gluten requirements. Moreover, sugar products should be boycotted by children until the age of 2, as consuming sugar at such a tender age has been shown to increase the risks of developing health issues later on in life, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. 

Considering the information above, you should try to minimize the consumption of glutenous foods for children because excessive consumption of gluten is what causes celiac disease. But that does not mean that children should not consume gluten at all or follow a gluten-free diet, as gluten-free diets are low in nutrition so they can cause stunted growth or malnutrition.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.