pregnancy - Jonas Kakaroto

The Impact of Undiagnosed Celiac Disease on Fetal Development and Maternal Health EP024

‘With our technology, every time a woman dies, it’s a medical error.’

Recent reports have uncovered some alarming statistics regarding maternal mortality rates in the United States. While these numbers are on the decline in every other developed nation, pregnant women in the US are at greater risk of dying than they were in recent years. We know that undiagnosed celiac disease has a significant impact on maternal health and fetal development, and we must identify expectant mothers (and fathers) who have the potential to reap remarkable benefits from a simple diet change.

This issue is especially important to the Gluten Free RN as a mother herself – as well as an emergency ER nurse certified in PALS, NLS and pediatric emergency nursing. She shares the stories of women who had difficulty getting pregnant or maintaining pregnancies as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and explains how a mass screening could work to prevent such intense suffering.

Listen to learn how adopting a gluten-free or Paleo diet can help women carry their babies to full-term and deliver healthy, thriving children!

What’s Discussed:

Nadine’s mission to get women tested for celiac disease prior to pregnancy

  • Allows to absorb nutrients during pregnancy (including prenatal vitamins)
  • Can deliver healthy, thriving child

The story of Alice Bast

  • Suffered miscarriage and still births
  • Multiple doctors couldn’t provide answers
  • Vet gave idea to test for celiac disease
  • Founded the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

The necessity for a mass screening of men and women

  • Identify HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 gene carriers
  • Genes of both parents affect fetal health
  • Ratio of women to men with celiac disease is 1:1
  • Ratio of women to men diagnosed with celiac disease is 3:1

The increased risks for pregnant women with undiagnosed celiac disease

  • Miscarriage
  • Still birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Failure to thrive in children
  • Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure)

The role men play in infertility

  • ED, low sperm count and low libido may be attributed to undiagnosed celiac disease
  • Symptoms include deficiencies in zinc, magnesium and B vitamins as well as anemia and osteoporosis

The argument that a mass screening for celiac disease is too expensive

  • The cost associated with undiagnosed celiac disease is much higher
  • Consists of medical costs from complications
  • Also includes decreased productivity and morbidity/mortality
  • Study published in Science Digest found that 42,000 children may die annually due to undiagnosed celiac disease

Conditions that indicate high risk for celiac disease

  • Chronic GI issues
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Vitamin/mineral deficiencies
  • Secondary hyperparathyroidism
  • Unexplained elevations in liver function
  • Down, Turner or Williams syndrome
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease

Sam’s story

  • Delayed puberty (didn’t get period until 17-years-old)
  • Diagnosed with celiac disease at 19
  • Doctors warned she would probably never have children
  • Raising two healthy boys

Why Nadine is concerned about the current generation of children

  • Higher rates of autoimmune diseases, cancer and learning disabilities

The appropriate diet to promote maternal health and proper fetal development

  • Gluten- and dairy-free
  • Paleo is best
  • Humans have enzymes to break down meat proteins
  • Humans do not have enzymes to break down grain proteins
  • Avoid wheat, barley, rye and oats
  • Embrace meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds

Deficiencies that can be corrected to promote healthy pregnancy

  • B6 and B12
  • A, D, E and K (the fat-soluble vitamins)
  • Magnesium RBC
  • Zinc

The US maternal mortality rate compared to other developed nations

  • Rising in the US, declining in other developed nations
  • 28 deaths for every 100,000 births in 2013, up from 23 in 2005


“Maternal Mortality Rate in US Rises, Defying Global Trend, Study Finds” in The New York Times

“Focus on Infants During Childbirth Leaves US Moms in Danger” on NPR

Beyond Celiac: Alice Bast

“Reproductive Changes Associated with Celiac Disease” from the World Journal of Gastroenterology

“Celiac Disease and Reproductive Health” from Celiac Disease: A Comprehensive Review and Update

Connect with Nadine: 



Contact via Email

‘Your Skin on Gluten’ on YouTube

Books by Nadine:

Dough Nation: A Nurse’s Memoir of Celiac Disease from Missed Diagnosis to Food and Health Activism

photo by skitterphoto

Signs and Symptoms of Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance in Children EP006

In this episode of ‘Gluten Free RN,’ Nadine discusses common signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance in children as well as the importance of identifying celiac disease early to allow for the growth and development of body and brain.

Nadine employs anecdotes about her own clients at the Gluten Free RN office to illustrate the myriad of ways that gluten can affect the health and development of undiagnosed kids.

This episode explains the GI problems, developmental delays, autoimmune disorders and neurological issues that children with gluten intolerance face as long as they remain undiagnosed. Click and listen to recognize the warning signs!

What’s Discussed:

The common dismissal of celiac symptoms in children

The profound impact of gluten intolerance on fetal development and maternal health

  • It typically takes 9-15 years for a person to be diagnosed correctly

Signs and symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance in children

  • Failure to thrive
  • Low birthweight
  • Short stature, stunted growth and delayed development
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting
  • Focus and retention issues (ADD, ADHD, ODD)
  • Autism
  • Psychiatric issues
  • Delayed puberty
  • Listen for the full list

Katie’s story

  • After suffering from chronic constipation, her colon was removed – but her health did not improve until she learned about celiac disease and changed her diet
  • Because her growth was stunted as a result of malnourishment, Katie only grew to 5’3” despite having a size 10 foot

Why vitamins, minerals and supplements don’t help children with celiac disease or gluten intolerance

Why undiagnosed celiac disease patients suffer from focus issues and psychiatric disorders

  • Inflammation of the brain causes hypoxia
  • Low oxygen flow results in ‘brain fog’

Sam’s story

  • At 17, she was overweight and suffering from abdominal pain
  • She was still wetting the bed and had yet to get her period
  • After receiving a celiac diagnosis and adopting a gluten-free diet, Sam lost 100 pounds and has gone on to have two healthy children

The importance of testing the entire family for celiac disease once one member has received a diagnosis

The high percentage of celiac patients who are asymptomatic

  • Roughly 50% of people diagnosed with celiac disease would say they have no symptoms

The increased chances of developing autoimmune disorders when children with celiac disease go undiagnosed

The enormous genetic overlap between celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes

Why parents should be tested for celiac disease prior to a pregnancy

  • Undiagnosed expectant mothers are at an increased risk of miscarriage, complications and delivering babies with low birthweight and neural defects

How to navigate birthday parties, camps, school events, etc.

  • Proper planning and communication make it easy

Resources Mentioned: 

How Doctors Think by Jerone Groopman

 University of Chicago Medicine Celiac Disease Center Website

 EnteroLab Celiac Testing Resources

 Connect with Nadine: 



Contact via Email

Books by Nadine:

Dough Nation: A Nurse’s Memoir of Celiac Disease from Missed Diagnosis to Food and Health Activism