8 Signs Your Child May Need a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten is everywhere. Breads, dips, even shampoos. If your child is gluten intolerant, it can drastically impact her health and behavior. If you suspect a gluten intolerance or just aren’t sure what’s ailing your child, consider these signs your child is gluten intolerant and trying a gluten-free diet to see if symptoms improve.

As much as 15 percent of the population may be gluten intolerant, which means they should avoid products made with wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Other grain products like corn and oats can be eaten if they’re uncontaminated. Often, the grains are processed on the same equipment as wheat. So if your child is intolerant, check for gluten-free certification.

8 Signs Your Child is Gluten Intolerant

1. Bumpy, Scaly Arms: A condition called keratosis pilaris can occur on the backs of the child’s arms, bottom or cheeks. This is a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.

2. Gas, Bloating, Diarrhea or Constipation: Gluten intolerance wreaks havoc on the digestive system.

3. Fatigue and Brain Fog: After eating a gluten-filled meal, your child may feel sluggish and unfocused.

4. Dizziness: Gluten may cause your child’s balance to suffer and other neurological symptoms.

5. Migraines: Wheat is a major migraine trigger. Those who are sensitive to gluten are susceptible to migraines from eating wheat or gluten.

6. Mood Issues: Anxiety, depression, mood swings and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be triggered by gluten.

7. Hormone Imbalance: If your child is past puberty, gluten consumption may impact her periods.

8. Inflammation: Gluten can cause swelling and pain in the joints.

If you suspect your child is gluten intolerant, have her tested for celiac disease. However, the best way to determine if your child is intolerant (since the celiac test is notoriously unreliable) is to go on an elimination diet. Eliminate gluten from her diet for three weeks and see if symptoms improve. This not only diagnoses gluten intolerance, it is the treatment as well.

Once you’ve determined your child is gluten intolerant, you’ll want to eliminate it from her diet, 100 percent. Ask for gluten-free menus when eating out and buy only gluten-free certified products for your child.

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