Osteopenia is a precursor to osteoporosis, and it typically occurs in adults over the age of 55. So why are many children showing signs of bone loss? One cause might be celiac disease.
Osteopenia falls in between healthy bone and osteoporosis in regards to the amount of bone mineral density. Osteopenia affects roughly half of all Americans over the age of 50, and the cause of bone loss is typically from not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
Adults with celiac disease also have a high risk of osteopenia, and the amount of these adults with low bone density is somewhere between 80 and 100 percent. Research also shows that even children with celiac disease have extremely low bone density; some research even shows that 50 percent of children with celiac disease have osteopenia.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which antibodies attack the stomach and intestines due to ingestion of gluten. This disorder causes malnutrition because essential vitamins and nutrients are not being absorbed in the body. One such important mineral is calcium, which is essential for building strong bones.
Celiac disease can be hard to diagnose if your child is not exhibiting some of the common symptoms, such as irritable bowel, bloating, diarrhea, and poor growth. Malabsorption of minerals like calcium might be occurring even without the presence of these symptoms. While a child with osteopenia might look normal on the outside, their bones are weak and prone to breakage. Signs of calcium deficiency include poor development of bones and teeth, rickets, bone pain, easy fractures, irritability, and insomnia.
The only cure for celiac disease is a gluten free diet, and research has shown that these diets are effective in improving bone mineral density. The recovery might take a matter of years, and early diagnosis of celiac disease increases the likelihood of a speedy recovery on a gluten free diet.
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