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Gluten intolerance and breastfeeding

(11 Posts)
fatfairy Sun 04-Mar-12 12:14:12

My daughter has been gluten intolerant for years (in fact, her childhood IBS was probably linked to this). A sniff of wheat, and she has terrible stomach cramps - so pasta, bread, biscuits etc have been off the menu for years. But since she's been pregnant she has discovered that her intolerance has disappeared! (hence currently stuffing herself with pasta etc etc).
Questions for Gransnetters:
* how can such a well-established intolerance just disappear on pregnancy?
* might it have gone for good, or is it likely to return after the birth?
* given that she intends to breastfeed, how long after the birth should she wait to test her reaction to wheat again?

JessM Sun 04-Mar-12 12:45:42

The immune system changes in pregnancy, because the mother's immune system must not reject the baby. This has lots of different subtle effects. Intolerance of gluten is caused by the immune system in the gut not tolerating the foreign protein.
(Rejection does occur in some miscarriages - the baby/placenta is like a transplant from a not very close relative if you think about it. Only 50% of its genes from mum. But the amazing thing is that normally it does not. )
Who can forsee the future? Maybe a medically consultant who is an expert in food allergies could give her a clue about what other women have experienced.

fatfairy Sun 04-Mar-12 13:16:31

Thanks JessM, hadn't thought about the immune system like that. So there must be at least a chance that the change will be permanent - which would be great (the number of times I've belatedly remembered to change a menu plan when she comes round!)

JessM Sun 04-Mar-12 14:12:25

Yes must be a pain. Hope all goes well.

Charlotta Sun 04-Mar-12 18:38:39

I think the main problem here is to find a medical person who is a real expert in food intolerance. She herself will soon know after the birth. Sometimes intolerances themselves change and the gut rejects something else. We have had allsorts in our family. I could write a book about it!
Good luck to the young Mum and I hope things stay as they are. Living with food intolerance is difficult. Very often you remain slim just because you are always being careful. That is some consolation.

fatfairy Sun 04-Mar-12 23:38:36

What worries me is the risk that if she tests herself whilst breastfeeding, and finds that the intolerance has returned, the gastric upset may hurt the baby. On the other hand I wonder whether there is any risk of the intolerance re-establishing itself if she delays until the baby is weaned.
I guess she'll have to try a little gluten once the baby is fairly well settled into a routine - so that any ill effects can be spotted. I just hope that the intolerance isn't passed on.

grannyactivist Mon 05-Mar-12 00:35:24

Is her problem definitely gluten intolerance? I ask because I think it's very unusual for the symptoms to disappear like that if it's a true gluten intolerance. In fact, my understanding is that there are more usually problems related to the condition during pregnancy.

Faye Mon 05-Mar-12 01:14:09

fatfairy my D2 was highly allergic to dairy products noticeably from the age of fourteen. When she was nineteen she eventually went to a speicalist who did tests and declared she was not allergic to dairy and so she slowly started eating it again. I knew she was still allergic and three weeks later she phoned me late at night to meet her at the hospital. Her face was very swollen and her eyes looked like slits. Back to the specialist and he realised he had tested her while she was taking antihistamines and had to tell her that she was indeed still allergic to dairy products. I could have told him, but they know best. Years later when she was pregnant she tried eating dairy food, had no allergies and hasn't been allergic since. Another thing that her pregnancy stopped were headaches. She had a severe headache for sixty days before she became pregnant, the doctors thought she had Multiple Sclerosiso and she had some scans. Even though it was terrible news I was pretty sure she didn't have Multiple Sclerosis. Her doctor sent her to a Neurosurgeon who said he didn't have MS but gave her medication for her headaches. He had to phone a government department in Canberra to prescribe the tablets for her. He said he would not prescribe the normal medication for a young woman of childbearing ages the other tablets on the government list as they would cause huge problems if she got pregnant. Thankfully because not long after she did become pregnant with her first child. When she stopped breastfeeding after two years her severe daily headaches returned and I suggested she cut down on her salt intake, a day later the headaches stopped. I also think her back was out which might have also contributed to her headaches, she has since had treatment for her back too.

grannyactivist Mon 05-Mar-12 09:20:00

During my pregnancies I was sick every day, but I was released from the agony of regular debilitating migraines - which sadly returned after each pregnancy.

harrigran Tue 06-Mar-12 21:16:51

I have heard of people with rheumatoid arthritis feeling so much better while pregnant, sadly it always returns after birth. I have never heard of a gluten intolerance disappearing during pregnancy but JessM could be right about the immune system.

fatfairy Wed 07-Mar-12 16:48:20

Thanks for all these posts.
Grannyactivist - my daughter was initially diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which simply means that They Wot Knows did not, in fact, know what was causing the dreadful bloating, diarrhoea, cramps etc etc which could come over her in the space of minutes. The diagnosis of gluten intolerance has come in recent years, and she knows that she can't eat more than a tiny bit of bread, pasta etc without problems (she works in catering, and really does have to taste what she's proposing to put in front of customers).
Oh well, fingers crossed.