Better Bones for Kids with Celiac Disease: A Gluten-Free Diet Rebuilds Bone Mass
Aug 31, 2011 10:09AM
Celiac disease (CD) is an inherited intestinal disorder characterized by a lifelong intolerance to the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. Although it can occur at any age, CD most commonly afflicts children ages 9 to 24 months, and one of its common complications is metabolic bone disease. Reduced bone mineral density can lead to the inability to develop optimal bone mass in children and the loss of bone in adults, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
A recent article in the journal Nutrition Reviews stated that a gluten-free diet promotes a rapid increase in bone mineral density and leads to complete recovery of bone mineralization in children. If a CD diagnosis and treatment is established before puberty, children may attain normal peak bone mass, which can prevent osteoporosis in later life. Nutritional supplements of calcium and vitamin D further appear to increase the bone mineral density of children and adolescents. A gluten-free diet also improves, though rarely normalizes, bone mineral density in adults with CD.
“Our findings reinforce the importance of a strict gluten-free diet, which remains the only scientific proven treatment for CD to date,” the authors conclude. “Early diagnosis and therapy are critical in preventing CD complications like reduced bone mineral density.”