Research shows a link between ADHD and celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity. It is reported that those who were sensitive to gluten (celiac disease) but were not avoiding gluten in their diets had increased ADHD symptoms compared to those following gluten-free diets.
Gluten is found wheat, rye, barley and related grains. See the study abstract here.
Gluten is fast becoming a major source of allergic/sensitivity reactions in children and adults. When there is a problem, the body reacts to proteins in the grains. Avoidance of specific grains is then important. Your physician can recommend the best evaluation. Due to the rise in awareness and new cases of gluten sensitivity, there is a growing market for good-tasting gluten-free products.
What Are the Symptoms?
A wide range of symptoms may develop in the digestive system or other parts of the body.
The National Institutes of Health advises:
One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.
Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:
- recurring abdominal bloating and pain
- chronic diarrhea
- pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
- weight loss/weight gain
- unexplained anemia (a low count of
red blood cells causing fatigue)
- bone or joint pain
- osteoporosis, osteopenia
- behavioral changes
- tingling numbness in the legs
(from nerve damage)
- muscle cramps
- missed menstrual periods (often
because of excessive weight loss)
- infertility, recurrent miscarriage delayed growth
- failure to thrive in infants
- pale sores inside the mouth, called aphthous ulcers
- tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
- itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
A person with celiac disease may have no symptoms. People without symptoms are still at risk for the complications of celiac disease, including malnutrition. The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance of developing malnutrition and other complications. Anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss are signs of malnutrition: The body is just not getting enough nutrients. Malnutrition is a serious problem for children because they need adequate nutrition to develop properly. (See Complications.)
The length of time a person is breastfed, the age a person started eating gluten-containing foods, and the amount of gluten-containing foods one eats are three factors thought to play a role in when and how celiac disease appears. Some studies have shown, for example, that the longer a person was breastfed, the later the symptoms of celiac disease appear and the more uncommon the symptoms.
Blood tests are available to determine gluten sensitivity. Be sure to eat gluten-containing products (breads, pasta) prior to the evaluation or a negative result can occur, even if one has celiac disease.
Resources for More Information:
Celiac Sprue Association/USA Inc.
P.O. Box 31700
Omaha, NE 68131–0700
Phone: 1–877–CSA–4CSA (272–4272)