You may have heard some news about the FDA recently regulating foods carrying a Gluten Free label. You may have also heard that they “won’t have to be technically free of all wheat and gluten, with an allowance of 20 parts per million of gluten.” And you may also be wondering what all that means.
Celiac disease affects up to 3 million Americans. It causes abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea, and people who have it can suffer weight loss, fatigue, rashes, and other long-term medical problems. Many others report a sensitivity to gluten, including many of our kiddos affected by Autism. While there don’t seem to be many definitive studies showing the effects of gluten on people with Autism, many parents have implemented a gluten free diet, noting that their child’s gastrointestinal health improves as a result. Further, many parents find that with improved GI functioning, symptoms associated with their child’s ASD also improve.
So, if you or your child are on a gluten free diet, should you be concerned about this 20 parts per million thing? The medical community says no. This trace amount of gluten is so small that most people living with Celiac disease would not even be affected.
With over $4 billion being spent annually on gluten free products (according to the American Celiac Disease Alliance), it’s hard to believe that until now there’s been no FDA regulation of these foods. This new regulation will allow families to shop confidently for products that are deemed safe for consumption for both individuals with Celiac disease as well gluten sensitivities.
Think your child might be affected by gluten? You could be right. Some children with Autism do show an increased immune reactivity to gluten. If you’re considering removing gluten from your child’s diet, you can use Birdhouse For Autism to track food intake, dietary infractions, reactions and progress with elimination diets. Check out our blog post on how to use Birdhouse to track food.
We hope this clears up some of the confusion for you! Has your child had success on a gluten free, or gluten-reduced, diet? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.