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Experts discuss ways to tackle celiac

Why is celiac called a disease? It is not a disease,just an allergy to wheat. People are allergic to many food products. So why not just call it wheat allergy?

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: December 19, 2010 2:57:25 am

Why is celiac called a disease? It is not a disease,just an allergy to wheat. People are allergic to many food products. So why not just call it wheat allergy?

This was Dr Anupam Sibal,paediatric gastroenterologist and Group Medical Director of Apollo,said. And the thought he was voicing was something most of his audience had come to terms with.

In fact,the over 200-strong crowd assembled at Delhi’s Habitat Centre to mark Celiac Day — most of them parents of young children with gluten intolerance — could not agree more. A celiac child is not easy to live with. Allergic to wheat and several associated grains — their parents and teachers have to be constantly on their toes. It means a completely separate food regimen for the child — all gluten-free products.

Even so,they have come to terms with what they see as “a lifestyle change” and Sibal’s comment was greeted with applause. But the doctor had some words of hope too for this currently incurable condition: several ongoing researches including enzyme therapy and the possibility of a vaccine. The vaccine has been on trial in Australia since last year and the enzyme is one which have been recently isolated which may one day eliminate the body’s toxic response to wheat.

The other intriguing possibility being explored is at the University of Queensland. The idea is to give the patient a diet and injections of hookworms,which will protect the intestines from the damages made by wheat. “There is some optimism and in a 5-plus year time frame,we may have a solution,” said Sibal,who is a member of the governing body of Celiac Society.

For now,the challenge,he said,is to spread awareness – especially on five points. The first and foremost is the awareness that diarrhoea is not the only symptom. In fact,45 per cent children suffer from slow or stunted growth,anaemia,constipation and diabetes. Also,children should be not be put on a non-gluten diet only on basis of a blood test,an intestinal biopsy is a must,” he said. “In case a sibling has gluten intolerance,a child must undergo a test.” Last but not the least,is the labelling of gluten-free food.

About Celiac

Celiac disease is an allergic reaction to gluten,a protein found in wheat,rye and barley,which results in damage to the small intestine.

Symptoms include diarrhoea,abdominal pain,irritability,depression,allergy,stunted growth,weight loss. The malabsorption of nutrients can cause further complications.

Diagnosis is done first by a blood test,after which an intestinal biopsy is necessary as a confirmatory test. The biopsy is an 8 minute process,which is conducted under sedation.

There is no treatment a gluten-free diet is the only way to control the condition.

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