Monday, July 12, 2010

Constipation in Kids Caused by Gluten and Dairy

Anyone who has had a problem with constipation knows that it’s a miserable experience.  The body is supposed to eliminate its waste products at least once or twice per day in a healthy colon and that elimination process should be easy and painless. What’s worse than being an adult with constipation is witnessing it in your child.

Children can be in pain from constipation plus be fearful of having to go to the bathrooms as they associate the experience with discomfort, thus compounding the problem.

Here in the clinic we’ve always had success treating constipation in adults and children alike. We find the root cause is frequently a food intolerance.  The small intestine is designed to breakdown the food we eat and absorb it into the bloodstream that in turn delivers vital nutrients to all of our cells.  With certain food intolerances, food is unable to be properly broken down and much of it remains in the small intestine due to maldigestion and malabsorption.  This unabsorbed food is then “dumped” into the large intestine creating a problem known as colonic dumping.

This refers to the fact that too much undigested foodstuffs are being “dumped” into the large intestine or colon resulting in a slower rate of transit and thus constipation.

We therefore always begin the diagnostic process with the digestive tract and endeavor to discover what the person may be eating that is not being adequately digested and absorbed. Subsequent to that we also evaluate for infections, poor liver function and imbalanced probiotics.

A very recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, March 2, 2010, noted that the younger a child was when gluten was introduced into their diet, the more likely they were to develop constipation. A population study cited the incidence at 12% for children to develop functional constipation by 24 months of age.

Children who were introduced to gluten before the age of 6 months were more likely to develop constipation (37%) than those who were not so introduced (27%). The correlation was deemed to be significant.

A finding of cow’s milk allergy was also associated with functional constipation of childhood.  However there was no association found between the timing of introduction of other foods such as eggs, soy, peanuts and tree nuts and constipation.

I concur with the findings of this study as we have seen the exact same thing clinically for over 20 years.
The 6 month mark is one that has come up in several studies. Waiting beyond 6 months allows for a more mature immune system and is highly correlative of increased risk for celiac when not honored.

Personally, in addition to waiting a 6 month minimum, I would assess for a family history of celiac, gluten sensitivity and any autoimmune history before introducing any gluten to a child.  To be on the safe side I would likely wait closer to one year in a child with no obvious risk factors plus be extremely aware of any negative reactions to the initial introduction. Often we are too quick to dismiss tummy aches, runny noses, itchy skin and crankiness as “normal” when the body of a sensitive child is using those exact symptoms to communicate its distaste for a newly introduced food.

Constipation is not only very uncomfortable but it’s a sign that dangerous toxins are remaining in the body too long.  It does have long term negative effects but fortunately it is not difficult to handle.

I hope you find this to be helpful.  Please let me know if I can assist you in any way.

Also please check out my YouTube video on this subject.  YouTube

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


Neonomide said...

Very interesting. Can I have a link to the abstract, please ?

lumin smith said...

leaky gut syndrome
has also been linked with many conditions, such as: Celiac Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Autism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Eczema, Dermatitis, Ulcerative Colitis.