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Gluten test: not always accurate

Should everybody go gluten-free? 
Should everybody with undiagnosed symptoms go gluten-free? 

Emma can help you answer this question.

Emma is a 3-year-old and turns out to have gluten sensitivity.  She came to our clinic with severe recurrent abdominal pain. She had lots of investigations,  including x-rays and ultrasound which were normal.  Her celiac and gliadin antibodies blood tests were also normal.  She does not carry the celiac gene, she does not have celiac disease. Gastric reflux and constipation medications were of no benefit.

Most paediatricians would diagnose her as having “functional abdominal pain” and fit her into the “Rome criteria” (, a system that has been developed to classify the functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) of the digestive system when: “symptoms cannot be explained by the presence of structural or tissue abnormality, based on clinical symptoms.”

However, it is my experience that many of these children do in fact have gluten sensitivity.  A gluten-free trial is not part of the “Rome” diagnostic work up to exclude disease! So, Emma went on a gluten-free diet for a 3-month trial. Success! Mum said:

“A great result. Emma has no more sore tummies, except when she has gluten.  She is now sleeping through the night, except when she has gluten.  Toilet training is at last going well (with normal poos), and she is generally happier, and she is eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables (before she was a much more picky eater).  Also we have noticed a huge benefit for her behavior, with her not being as grumpy or frustrated.”

“And she is so good about being on this gluten-free diet. She is always asking if a food might have gluten in it.  But if we make a mistake she says ‘my tummy hurts’ she feels sick and gets cranky again.”

For Emma’s sake I’m very pleased that we have now found the cause for her recurrent abdominal pain.  It is NOT a functional pain – she has a real disease.  All her tests were normal, including her gluten/celiac tests.  She has gluten syndrome.

I expect that Emma will remain gluten-free for the long-term, for a life-time.

Should everybody with undiagnosed symptoms go gluten-free? I say yes. So many people experience a dramatic response.

At the Childrens Clinic | Allergy Centre, Christchurch, we will test you for, and help you with, celiac, gluten sensitivity and gluten syndrome.