Down Syndrome and Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease are more likely to have other diseases in which the autoimmune system attacks the body’s healthy cells and tissues. There are also some conditions that make people much more likely to have celiac disease. One is European ancestry. Also, if a close relative (parent, sibling, child) has it, there’s a 1 in 22 chance that you do too. The least obvious predictor is Down Syndrome. Up to 16% of people with Down Syndrome also have celiac disease. Celiac disease can show few to no symptoms in children with Down Syndrome, but if left undiagnosed and untreated, malnutrition, stunting, or lymphoma can result. Doctors, however, are divided about the best age for CD screening (some says 2 to 3 years) and whether it is cost-effective.

All you need to know? If your child has Down Syndrome, you might want to make sure they don’t have Celiac disease also by taking them in for a blood test. The blood test determines if you should check further for celiac disease with the more expensive and difficult biopsy of the small bowel.

Celebrities with Celiac Disease

fried fishSome celebrities, we know, stick to a gluten-free diet as a fad way to lose weight. Other are genuinely gluten-free. Prying into the lives of people we don’t know is a fun international pastime, so let’s check in on some celebrities with Celiac disease:

  • Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, held a charity auction through his show on ebay in May 2005 to raise money for the Celiac Sprue Association. He had this to say on the air: “This was a chance for us to bring a little attention to a disease that probably affects 1 out of every 100 of us, Celiac disease, wheat intolerance and the Celiac Sprue Association.  I‘ve got it, in fact, a marginal case, but enough of one that I‘ve eliminated wheat from my diet.  Kids who have it often wind up are unable to assimilate nutrients from all foods, which means they really cannot grow.” Thanks for raising awareness, Keith!
  • Air America radio host Thom Hartmann eats lunch every day at an 100% gluten-free fish-fry joint in Portland, Oregon, according to the Associated Press.
  • Comedienne and author Sarah Vowell, who says she has a “wheat allergy” is obsessed with the magaine “Living Without,” which she says “has the most downbeat name of any magazine since ‘Downbeat.'” She wonders why “the publishers don’t come clean and call it “Loser?” She also admits that the “corny” and “reassuring” magazine makes her feel less alone because her friends have “an underwhleming grasp of the pros and cons of various brands of soy flour.” Her hilarious segment on This American Life about living without wheat is worth a listen (it starts at about 17:35).
  • Elizabeth Hasselbeck, a member of the popular talk show The View, signed a deal this April to write a book about her experiences living gluten-free. The book, titled The G-Free Diet, will come out May 2009. Elizabeth has spoken on the show about the ins and outs of Celiac disease. Thank you Elizabeth!
  • Jane Swift, the youngest women ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate who later became the first female Governor of Massachusetts, underwent many medical examinations before being diagnosed with Celiac disease. When she goes to a political function, her staff calls ahead to tell the food servers about gluten-free options. Unfortunately, Swift often finds that people think she’s being difficult.

There are of course several more celebrities who avoid gluten. Kyle Eslick of keeps a running list of celebrities with Celiac Disease.

Update on Wellshire Farms

Here’s the original article indicating that some Wellshire Farms’ products exceeded 1,000 parts per million in independent gluten testing.,0,506031.story?page=1

And a follow up article indicating that Whole Foods has pulled Wellshire Farms’ products from its shelves:,0,4055580.story

Gluten Free List Update from Campbell's

From Susan Baranowsky, Director of Consumer Affairs:

“I would like to clear up any confusion that may have resulted from Campbell’s recent review of the gluten-free status of our Prego and Pace products. After FDA issued its proposed regulation about gluten-free food labeling, Campbell temporarily removed some products from our “Gluten-Free” List so that we could review and update our checking and validation processes. We did this to ensure that we could provide consumers with the most accurate and up-to-date information. We re-checked each and every ingredient in each of the products on our list, and, as a further safeguard, we analyzed each product to assure that even incidental levels of gluten were not present. A product could not go back into our “Gluten-Free” List until each of these steps had been completed successfully. The Swanson Stock and Broth products that appear on our list successfully completed this process in June. Very shortly, we will complete the same process, including the analysis, on our Prego line. Our updated “Gluten Free” List, including many of your favorite Prego products, will be available in early January to consumers who call us at 1-800-44-BROTH or 1-888-FOR-PREGO. Products in the Pace and Swanson Canned Poultry brands have been removed because they are currently being scheduled for the same rigorous review. Sorry for the length of my reply but I wanted to answer all your concerns. Please share this information with other concerned consumers. Thanks for listening. “

Online Shopping, Gluten-Free

Gluten Free Live Logo Thanks to My Celiac Blog, I learned that there is an entire online shopping area, partnered with Amazon, where you can buy exclusively gluten-free items. This site, Gluten Free Live, is a place where cross-contamination is so contained that you can’t even link to a description of a gluten-containing product. Where you can’t even read the word “gluten” without immediately reading “free.” What I’m talking about, my friends, is a place where you can be yourself, a place where you can go on a GF Shopping BONANZA. They carry bread, bread mix, cereal, cookies, crackers, energy bars, flour, fruit bars, meals, pancake mix, pretzels, pizza, vegetarian, casein-free, books, bread machines, and rice makers (my #1 favorite!). So what are you still reading this blog for? You’re so thin. You need some meat on your bones. Go shop already!