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For One Mother, Spotting Celiac Disease Allows a New Lease on Life

Photo: Courtesy of Julie Kennedy

Julie Kennedy remembers having symptoms when she was a child, but it wasn’t until after the birth of her third child that she began noticing more and more gastrointestinal issues after ingesting certain foods. She endured it until a friend mentioned that gluten could be the issue.

Julie’s doctor ordered the celiac disease blood test, which indicated that the disease was a possibility. It was confirmed with an endoscopy and biopsy of the small intestine.

A world of questions

After years of struggling, Julie finally had her answer. But what did this mean for her and her family? Through her own research, Julie learned that celiac disease is genetic, so she had all three of her children screened.

Her oldest daughter, 8-year-old Abbey, was the only one who came back with positive results. Abbey’s one and only symptom? Delayed growth starting at the age of 2. She wore 2T clothes for three years. At eight years old, she was the size of a five year old. Abbey’s pediatrician did not suspect her growth delay was connected to celiac disease until after Julie’s diagnosis.

Coming back

“Since our diagnoses, we have officially gone gluten-free in our home,” Julie reports. “I feel like a new person, with increased energy levels and significant improvements to my running workouts. I almost instantly dropped my average mile time by one to two minutes. I had no idea I could feel this good!”

Though it may take some time for Abbey to regain normal stature, she has shown major improvements with her attention at school, sleep patterns and her appetite.

Considering others

Because it is genetic, Julie has talked to her immediate family members about celiac disease and the need for them to get tested as well.

“At the time of our diagnosis, I didn’t even know what celiac disease meant. It was only after I started doing research online, reading books and talking to friends with celiac disease that I learned about the numerous health consequences and came to grips with the magnitude of the lifestyle changes we needed to make.”

Julie wants to help others who might have a similar story. “Celiac disease affects 1 percentage of the population,” she says, “but most of the people who have it don’t even know it.” A simple blood test is the first step towards getting answers.

Julie Kennedy, [email protected]

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