Why You Need to Test Your Child for Coeliac Disease Before Going Gluten-Free
If you think your child might have coeliac disease, you may think it's best to start a gluten-free diet straight away. However, it's much better to have them tested beforehand. Here's why you shouldn't go gluten-free until your child's had their coeliac test.
Your Child Could Get a False Negative
Some parents who have no success with the gluten-free diet believe that means their child doesn't have coeliac disease, but did you know that it's possible for coeliac symptoms to continue after starting your child on a gluten-free diet? This is because those with coeliac often need to have food which is completely free from gluten contaminants. Something as simple as cutting your child's gluten-free sandwich with the same knife you used for your gluten bread could be enough to make them sick. And, even if your child's symptoms do decrease, having this minute intake of gluten could still damage their insides. Getting a coeliac test will give you an accurate diagnosis without false negatives and let you know just how meticulous you need to be with food preparation.
You Won't Know if Your Child is Intolerant or Coeliac
If your child's symptoms reduce after they start a gluten-free diet, it could mean one of two things: either your child has coeliac disease, or your child is gluten intolerant. It's impossible to tell which of these your child has without a proper test. While it may seem unimportant, knowing what affliction is causing your child's gluten sensitivity is essential as it lets you know whether you should look out for any serious health complications. A proper coeliac diagnosis may also be necessary if your child needs dietary accommodations at school, at part-time work, at a camp, or anywhere else they may go, as many institutions don't make accommodations for those with gluten intolerance.
You Could Waste Money
Gluten-free food is, unfortunately, often more expensive than food with gluten in it. This is because the ingredients and preparations required come at a higher cost to food manufacturers. If you spend several weeks offering your child a gluten-free diet, you could end up wasting a lot of money, only to later find out that your child has no problem with gluten. Even if you have to pay for a coeliac test out of pocket, it can be cheaper than an unnecessary gluten-free diet.
Your Child Won't Want to Go Back to Gluten
If you start a gluten-free diet and your child's symptoms start to reduce, it'll be hard to test them for coeliac disease at a later date because most children aren't willing to go back to eating gluten. In order to get an accurate result from coeliac testing, it's essential that your child eats gluten beforehand. In fact, they may need to eat even more gluten than they used to before. This is called a gluten challenge, and it's necessary because it shows how your child's body is reacting to gluten. That's why it's best to postpone the gluten-free diet for a few weeks or months so testing can take place.
If you're ready to test your child for coeliac disease, take them to a reputable paediatric gastroenterologist for a biopsy. Biopsies are done via endoscopy (either using anaesthetic spray or sedation) and will give you, your child, and your doctor an accurate diagnosis.