I can think of few things more heartbreaking than infertility, repeated miscarriage and losing a child at birth. Women in my family and in my close circle of friends have struggled with pregnancy complications and I know how difficult and painful it is.
There is a glimmer of hope that was just reported in the journal Human Reproduction recently. Researchers in Denmark found that women who have undiagnosed celiac disease are at higher risk for infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth.
The good news is that if these women are diagnosed and treated with a gluten-free diet, their risk of pregnancy problems goes back to normal levels. Knowing about this link between undiagnosed celiac disease and pregnancy complications may help women achieve the pregnancies and families they have always wanted.
So what is celiac disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by eating the protein gluten, found in foods containing one or more of four grains. The four gluten grains are wheat, barley, rye and spelt.
Eating gluten causes a reaction that harms the lining of the intestine and interferes with digestion and absorption of nutrients. It increases the risk of cancer of the small intestine. Gluten intolerance also is associated with disorders in many other body symptoms, including the brain, skin, joints and cardiovascular system. Turns out celiac disease also appears to affect the reproductive system.
Celiac disease is diagnosed by a combination of blood tests and endoscopy, and is treated with a strict gluten-free diet. Even accidental intake of tiny amounts of gluten can trigger the disease.
I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance about 3 years ago and don’t know if I have celiac disease. I might; I’m not willing to eat gluten to confirm the diagnosis. (Eating gluten-free can interfere with testing because antibody levels and changes in the intestine correct with avoiding gluten in the diet).
I probably have been gluten intolerant most of my life. As I wrote before, major food intolerance (including gluten intolerance) is strongly associated with gallstone formation. I had my gallbladder removed at age 19 because of gallstones.
Luckily I have not had any problems with fertility. I was able to have my children when I wanted them and carried them without problems. I want that for you and the women in your life! If you or someone you love has been struggling with problems achieving and carrying a pregnancy please share this article with them. Their doctor may not be aware of this newly reported link between celiac disease and pregnancy complications.
If you are considering getting pregnant please keep a few things in mind. You need a prenatal vitamin BEFORE you are pregnant. One that contains adequate amounts of folic acid, iron and iodine is crucial. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use any recreational drugs while trying to conceive. Also, you must manage your stress because too much stress can affect fertility. (Heck it affects everything else, why not that, right?)
QUESTION: Do you know anyone struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss? Would this information help them?