Up to 8,000 children across Ireland with undiagnosed coeliac disease are at high risk of becoming malnourished because their bodies cannot absorb nutrients properly, warns the Coeliac Society of Ireland.
The warning comes after reports in the UK that a boy in became deaf and blind because of a junk food diet that left him extremely malnourished for more than a decade.
It was widely reported that the 14 year old went blind ‘after only eating a junk food diet of chips, crisps and white bread.’
“People with undiagnosed coeliac disease cannot process gluten, so every time they eat food containing gluten the lining of their gut is damaged and struggles to absorb key nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats,” explains Sarah Keogh, dietitian with the Society.
The Coeliac Society of Ireland warned today that parents and health professionals need to be aware that undiagnosed coeliac disease can have a lasting impact on the development of a child.
“This results in malnutrition, which in children can be characterised by low bone density, stunted growth, delayed development and an inability to concentrate properly in school.” Highlighted Keogh.
Children at risk
According to the Coeliac Society of Ireland, in the region of 10,250 of the estimated 50,000 people in Ireland who have coeliac disease are children aged 14 or under, however, only about a quarter of them have been diagnosed.
The Coeliac Society has called for more routine testing for the disease by doctors.
“Coeliac disease isn’t just tummy trouble. Symptoms can include stomach pains, bloating, weight loss, migraines, infertility, anxiety, mouth ulcers, and skin rashes, or tiredness,” she explained.
“Tens of thousands of children and adults in Ireland are suffering unnecessarily because they have undiagnosed coeliac disease.”
The impact of being malnourished as a child can last a lifetime so it is vital that they are diagnosed as early as possible and switch to a strict gluten free diet.”
The ‘Promise’ Gluten Free Living Show will take place on 28th September, at the Green Isle Hotel in Dublin.
The Coelic Society said that parents will be shown how easy it now is to live a gluten free life at the event, meet experts and also to sample a wide range of gluten free products.
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