Is Eating Gluten Worth the Risk? Gluten Expert Dr. Rodney Ford to Speak in Mill Valley September 30

September 14, 2014

Dr. Rodney FordCan gluten be the source of many common children's ailments? Marin Mommies presents a guest article from the Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin (GIG) about the reseach done by world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and allergist Dr. Rodney Ford. GIG will present an evening with Dr. Ford at the Mill Valley Community Center on Tuesday, September 30 at 6 pm.

Many children cope with persistent medical and behavioral problems that confound both parents and doctors, including headaches, stomach aches, eczema, acne, ADHD, agitation, weight gain, weight loss, sleep issues, vitamin deficiencies, and more.

Increasingly, parents are discovering that gluten is the trigger for their child’s chronic health problems. There are more than 250 documented symptoms of gluten-related disorders, and the symptoms can vary between children and adults and even between infants and adolescents. And yet, more than 90% of Americans who have gluten-related disorders are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions and six to ten years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed.

Bay Area parents are invited to learn more about how gluten could be affecting their child’s health (or their own health) from Rodney Ford, MD, a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and allergist from New Zealand speaking at the Mill Valley Community Center on Tuesday, September 30 at 6 pm.

Dr. Ford began investigating adverse reactions to gluten 35 years ago when a gluten-free diet was prescribed exclusively for celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten that was then considered an obscure condition. Recent research now reveals that celiac disease is more common than once thought, affecting one percent of the worldwide population. And the United States has observed a true increase in the prevalence of celiac by fourfold since 1950. In addition, in 2012 an international consortium of physicians concluded that “It is now becoming apparent that reactions to gluten are not limited to celiac, rather we now appreciate the existence of a spectrum of gluten-related disorders.”

35 years ago, Dr. Ford was one of the first clinicians in the world to observe that celiac was more prevalent than most of the medical community believed and that many patients with chronic symptoms who did not have celiac improved when they tried a gluten-free diet. This clinical experience caused him to coin the term "gluten syndrome" to describe a wide spectrum of illnesses affecting the gut, brain, skin, and other body systems.

“The wider medical community has yet to come to grips with this emerging disorder. I came to this conclusion after seeing tens of thousands of sick children and observing that many of them responded quickly to a gluten-free diet but they did not have celiac disease," says Dr. Ford. "If you or your family members have longstanding health problems, could you feel better without gluten? Has your doctor ever considered a gluten-related disorder as a possible diagnosis?"

“The most common problems with food intolerance including gluten are eczema, rashes, bloating, abdominal pains, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel, gastric reflux, heartburn, headaches, migraine, tiredness, and low energy. About 50 years ago, children’s doctors said that a child complaining about a tummy pain was being bad or naughty. Their discomfort and pain was dismissed as nothing serious, they’ll grow out of it. But I totally disagree. I know that their tummy pains are real and need attention. These children need help and understanding with their symptoms. They need investigation and treatment,” says Dr. Ford.

“The brain and nerves can be harmed by gluten. Over half of celiacs have some neurological symptoms from gluten and many undiagnosed neurological diseases have been attributed to gluten. And I’ve see thousands of children with eczema and other skin problems. Their parents don’t want yet more creams prescribed—they desperately want a cure. Often gluten is the trigger.”

Dr. Ford graduated with honors from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, in 1974 (MB. BS). He achieved his Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in Paediatrics (FRACP) in 1981 and was awarded his Doctorate of Medicine (MD) in 1982. He has studied food allergy/intolerance problems in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Formerly, Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Otago University, New Zealand, he directed the pediatric allergy, and gastroenterology clinic at Christchurch Hospital for more than 15 years. He now directs the www.thechildrensclinic.co.nz, in Christchurch, New Zealand.

This event is being sponsored by The Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin. Along with Dr. Ford's presentation, the event will feature gluten-free hors d'oeuvres, wine, and vendors. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. For more information visit gigofmarin.wordpress.com or email glutenfreemarin@yahoo.com.