Linda’s family Coeliac story


My sister Judy and my brother Richard were born in 1944 and 1945 respectively and as babies did not thrive. Judy was particularly ill with daily stomach upsets and sickness and became very malnourished with a swollen belly and matchstick arms and legs. Doctors were unable to diagnose the problem and Mum took them from hospital to hospital for various tests to no avail until in 1947 our Bournemouth GP referred them to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. Here Dr Wilfred Sheldon had just discovered a connection with gluten and malabsorption and Judy and Richard were one of his earliest patients. However, that was not the end of the problem as manufacturers did not know how to isolate gluten in flour and other products. They were put on a soya diet which was very hard to use and in those days food was still on rationing after the war. Also a banana diet was introduced and we had huge hands of green bananas ripening in our kitchen!

Richard and Judy’s health began to improve and they grew normally.
It was discovered that my father also had the same coeliac disease, though I seemed to be healthy. Eventually gluten-free flour came on the market and Mum was able to make bread, cakes etc with it and it was used in all our cooking as well as cornflour.

My father found it difficult to stay on a gluten-free diet and consequently died of complications from coeliac in his late 50’s. I started to develop symptoms in my 30’s and had the blood test, which is not conclusive, and later a jejunal biopsy which was negative. I was later diagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome which is a form of coeliac disease. My own daughter also developed symptoms in her 30’s and was diagnosed as coeliac and has been on a gluten-free diet ever since. Her own daughters have been tested and so far appear to be clear.

My brother and sister are now in their 60’s and have developed further complications arising from coeliac such as lactose intolerance, thyroid problems and osteoporosis though they stick strictly to their gluten-free diet

Over the years there has been a greater awareness of coeliac disease and manufacturers have produced a huge range of products which makes life a lot easier for sufferers. Unfortunately, some manufacturers are not quite scrupulous enough and products get contaminated with gluten leading to the unpleasant symptoms of coeliac. The disease is well recognised by doctors and nurses and young babies are screened for it when they are weaned and there are support groups available throughout the country under the auspices of Coeliac UK. In all coeliac disease is a lot easier to manage nowadays and sufferers can lead an almost normal life.


~ by theblackfarmer on May 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “Linda’s family Coeliac story”

  1. I know when I was born, I was very ill and doctors had no clue of what it was. I was given a diet of bananas, sugar and milk after it was discovered that it was the only thing I could keep down. I was in hospital for two years. That was 1969 and I am pleased that things are different now. I believe all baby food is gluten free now. I’m sure this is a big help. It’s strange how so many diseases and conditions are interlinked. We can’t find anyone before myself who suffered from coeliac syndrome. My daughter was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism when she was 7 and researchers now are claiming a link to coeliac. Thanks for sharing this.

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