By: Jan Chait
Untreated celiac disease in children can stunt growth and cause lower A1Cs. However, researchers conducting a longitudinal study of children with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease say that following a gluten-free diet can restore normal growth and contribute to even lower A1Cs—and might also mitigate the blood-glucose deterioration commonly present during puberty.
Celiac disease is a chronic disease in which the parts of the intestines that absorb nutrients either shrink or disappear as a result of exposure to gluten—a substance found in many grains. Researchers attribute the stunted growth and lower A1Cs to improper absorption of carbohydrates caused by celiac’s effect on the intestinal tract.
Routine screening for celiac disease should be performed on children with type 1 diabetes so that it can be caught in the early stages. Celiac disease is more common among people with type 1 diabetes than among the general population.
—Diabetes Care, July 2002