Q&A: My 6 yr old daughter gets eczema or itchy hand after eating bread?

Question by Joe Rubin: My 6 yr old daughter gets eczema or itchy hand after eating bread?
Hi all,
My daughter has an itchy hand every time I give her bread or some things with gluten. However a blood test showed she does NOT have celiac disease where one can not tolerate or there is intolerance to gluten.
What can this be and what would you do? THANKS

Best answer:

Answer by Shauna

There are a lot of common ingredients in bread that she could be reacting to. Probably worth an allergy test and a food journal with an elimination diet, including to wheat.

However, re: the celiac test – you may not want to discount celiac disease completely, if allergy tests don’t turn up anything. There is about a 20% false negative rate with the blood tests for celiac disease, and that’s in adults. With children, it’s even higher. Basically, it’s because the test itself is not actually FOR celiac disease. It detects various antibodies and such that our bodies make in response to gluten if we HAVE celiac disease and it is active, although a few other conditions can cause the same jump in antibodies.

However, we make more antibodies if we have severely damaged intestines. In practice, a person with patchy internal damage tends to have much lower levels of these antibodies in the blood and may test negative to for celiac disease, even though they have the disease. The reason that children have a higher false negative rate is because they tend to have patchy damage more than adults do. :-/

It’s often worthwhile getting a copy of the results yourself, to check it yourself and see what they are, especially in case you ever get her tested again in the future, so you can see if her levels remain the same or increase (people with celiac disease in the family, for example, should get tested at least every 5 years, because the disease can trigger at any time of life).

There is also something known as non-celiac gluten intolerance. This was only proven to exist in studies about 1 1/2 years ago, so there is no test for it, very little known about it, etc… The only thing that is done is a person goes on a gluten free diet and checks health to see how it affects you, or doesn’t. Some non-celiacs with this seem to be just as sensitive as a celiac is to gluten, only with different reactions.

Does your little one react to malt, as well? That is also gluten, so if she reacts to a malted milkshake with itching just like with bread, that’s a good clue that gluten could be involved. But if she doesn’t, that may help you narrow down to something else, like the wheat alone.

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