Women who experience recurrent miscarriages or those whose fetuses show intrauterine growth retardation may have undiagnosed celiac disease.
Celiac disease is a genetic condition that causes those afflicted to experience difficulty absorbing gluten, as found in wheat, oats, barley, and several other grains. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal distention, and fatigue. And research suggests that more people may have a symptomless, milder form that may often go undetected. Recent studies have indicated that many people are found to have mild forms of the disease when their blood is tested for the condition, even though they were unaware that there was a problem.
Women who experience repeat miscarriages, also known as recurrent spontaneous abortions (RSA) or intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) -- a condition in which a baby is born significantly smaller than normal -- may have celiac disease that has gone undetected.
Researchers, led by Dr. Antonio Gasbarrini, explain that they decided to look at celiac disease since it is a common cause of malabsorption of food in western countries. And for some time, miscarriages have been correlated with celiac disease.
Gasbarrini and colleagues conducted blood tests for the condition in 44 patients with RSA, 39 with IUGR, and 50 healthy women. None of the healthy women were found to have celiac disease, but the condition was detected in 8% of the women with RSA and 15% of those with IUGR.
Biopsy samples from the intestine confirmed diagnosis in eight of nine patients whose blood tested positive for the disease.
Women having recurrent miscarriages or intrauterine growth retardation could have subclinical celiac disease, which will usually go undetected.
Celiac disease has been correlated with infertility, and with other conditions, including birth defects in children whose mothers could not absorb folic acid while pregnant because they had undiagnosed celiac disease, she said. It makes sense that the condition could lead to other problems related to too little nutritional intake, she pointed out. Spontaneous abortions could feasibly result if the mother was failing to absorb vitamins and minerals required by the baby, researchers explained. If celiac disease is responsible for some of these problems, it is easily treatable by avoiding products containing gluten.
The Lancet July 29, 2000;356:399-400
Intolerance to gluten is a common condition, affecting a significant proportion of the population. Recent research has put the figure as high as 1 in every 33 people, but my experience tells me that it is more like 1 in every 10 people.
Wheat really does not serve most of us well, even the organic whole-grain types. It is best avoided or severely limited by most of us. For those who care for women with recurrent miscarriages wheat intolerance causing a subclinical celiac disease should be considered.
As far as miscarriages go, a very high percentage of them are due to progesterone deficiencies. Any woman who has had a miscarriage should be properly tested with salivary hormone tests by a physician who is experienced with this.