The article discussed the case history of a 9-year old child that was previously undiagnosed (with Celiac Disease) and suffered from no particular symptoms that would make one immediately think: "Celiac!"; there was no history of the typical abdominal symptoms that doctors first associate with Celiac Disease, but rather a variable amount of cognitive impairment manifesting as difficulty thinking, memory issues, and general academic performance decline.
What caught the attention of Dr. Perlmutter was the fact that although "...she [the 9-year old patient] had no significant medical problems in her past and her overall physical, as well as neurological examinations were entirely normal...", [...] "...her problems were not constant, indicating that basically her brain was intact but something seemed to be detrimentally influencing her from time to time, causing her to have these significant issues with respect to how her brain functioned." Dr. Perlmutter recognized the possibility that DIET was perhaps the culprit (due to the fluctuating cognitive impairment), and ran blood tests that confirmed a profound sensitivity to gluten in this girl.
Within just a couple weeks of implementing a strict gluten-free diet for this young patient, the girl experienced a remarkable change in her cognitive function (for the better), and this improvement in symptoms continued over the next several months as the gluten-free diet was maintained. Her parents reported the following:
"Karen is completing third grade this year. Prior to removing gluten from her diet, academics, especially math, were difficult. As you can see, she is now soaring in math. Based upon this test, entering the fourth grade next year, she would be at the top of her class. The teacher indicated that if she skipped fourth grade and went to fifth grade, she would be in the middle of her class. What an accomplishment!"
Standard medical text books typically describe celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) as being primarily a gastrointestinal problem. I recall in medical school being taught that celiac disease was characterized by abdominal pain, abdominal distention with bloating and gas, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea, unexplained weight loss and growth delay in children. Newer research indicates that celiac disease can have a profound effect on the nervous system.
Dr. Maios Hadjivassiliou of the United Kingdom, a recognized world authority on gluten sensitivity, has reported in the journal, The Lancet, that "gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times, exclusively a neurological disease." That is, people can manifest gluten sensitivity by having issues with brain function without any gastrointestinal problems whatsoever. Dr. Hadjivassiliou indicates that the antibodies that a person has when they are gluten sensitive can be directly and uniquely toxic to the brain.