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From Rome, Italy:

My son, currently 5 years old, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 1.5 years ago, when we were living in the U.S. Unfortunately I've got a family history of gluten intolerance also. My younger brother had the worst case in the family, and I was old enough to remember symptoms when he was sick: like vomiting, tummy bulging, weight loss, diarrhea, whitish mucus with pink fades in the stools, etc. A few months before his diabetes diagnosis, my son was vomiting several times. During the hospitalization, the same acute symptoms became evident, plus dark green vomit and floating stools, puzzling the doctors. They performed blood tests: he had very high counts of anti-gliadin antibodies, and later on a very high RAST for milk proteins. They told us probably he only had the bad luck of having two completely unrelated diseases at such a young age. We immediately got him on a gluten-free diet since, and lately seems like he doesn't need night Lente anymore; in fact, he gets hypo sometimes with half a unit.

Now I have learned from research publications that diabetes occasionally causes coeliac sprue. Couldn't it be the other way around? My suspect is this: when gluten damages enough the intestine lining, it becomes inflamed and more porous, so many undigested proteins leak through the mucosa into the blood stream. My brother never cared much about meat or milk, he would mainly eat rice, but I know diabetics can't. Shouldn't (granola-type) whole grain cereals boxes contain warning for coeliac sprue dangers, considering gluten is mostly in the seed casing? Unfortunately, my son was eating industrial doses of it soaked in cups of cow's milk. Probably, if we eat mainly vegetable proteins or fish, we only have immune response, but if we eat too much milk and meat we'll have an autoimmune one. I learned that a coeliac intestine can't digest fat and complex proteins in a satisfactory manner, from which the floating stools. So if we ingest a lot of milk and meat, the longer the allergenic proteins will seat in the damaged intestine, leaking a whole lot. Of course these proteins are some different from our body tissues, but similar enough to possibly trigger severe autoimmune attacks. Could this be true?


Yes, there might be a relationship between celiac intestine and type 1 diabetes and a prospective study on this possible casual relationship has been recently launched by the S. Raffaele Institute in Milan in order to assess also if avoidance of gluten from daily diet in first degree relative of type 1 patients positive for beta cells autoantibodies could prevent type 1 diabetes. This follows the current concept that there is a strong relationship between the autoimmune diseases (such as type 1 diabetes) and once you have one there is a higher chance of another such as celiac disease, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, adrenal insufficiency (the so-called Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome). This is why doctors looking after type 1 patients are always on the lookout through an annual blood test for related autoantibodies.


Original posting 10 Jun 2000
Posted to Other Illnesses


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