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A call for a new way to classify gluten-related disorders

After a lifelong battle with eczema, I went gluten-free about a year ago on the suggestion of a nutritionist - and my skin condition immediately cleared up. So I was interested to read a Wall Street Journal article on gluten and a panel of experts' work to develop a new classification system for gluten-related disorders. Melinda Beck writes:

The proposal defines a spectrum of illnesses based on the kind of immune defenses people mount to gluten, from wheat allergies to autoimmune responses, such as celiac disease, in which the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue.


The experts also propose a third category for "gluten sensitivity," in which patients report the same symptoms as celiac disease but test negative for telltale antibodies. Some doctors have dismissed such complaints as imaginary, or fueled by the boom in gluten-free foods.

"Confusion about gluten sensitivity has been rampant," says Alessio Fasano, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research and a co-author of the proposal, published this week in the journal BMC Medicine. "That prompted a few of us to say, 'Let's put some facts on the table to assess what's known and what's not known.'"

As noted in the article, the American Gastroenterological Association has stated that research on how many people suffer from gluten sensitivity, and to what degree, is needed before official guidelines can be devised.

Previously: Stanford study shows lack of criteria for diagnosing food allergies, Experts debate the “squishy science” of food allergies and Jennifer Schneider Chafen discusses food allergy research on Science Friday
Photo by Robyn Lee

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