Tuesday, May 09, 2006


There's buzz that "Forever," tonight's episode of the Fox medical drama House, will involve celiac disease.

Discussions of the show take place at TV.com, the House website, and Television Without Pity.

After the Show

Well, it did turn out to be undiagnosed celiac disease--for both the mother and the baby. Here's how it played out: The mother had damaged intestinal villi from eating gluten. Her malabsorption led to a severe niacin deficiency that caused her to have fits and delusions. The untreated celiac disease also caused her to have gastric cancer. The baby's condition prevented the little one from absorbing its oral medication.

All of that strikes me as a very rare and dramatic instance of celiac disease running in a family. House typically involves solving challenging medical emergencies, so that shouldn't be surprising. However, it's worth noting that a far more typical situation would involve a mother suffering from profound fatigue and gastrointestinal distress, a baby that isn't thriving, and doctors who might not diagnose for a long time, at which point it would turn out that the mother also has osteoporosis as a result of the untreated celiac disease. Once both patients switched to a gluten-free diet, they would both feel much better, with the mother's bone density improving and the baby's bone formation being relatively normal.

High praise for Dr. House on Television Without Pity: "Celiac takes an average of 11 years to diagnose; he did it in 47 minutes, including commercials."


I hear Kara (you know, the baby-killing celiac mother) will appear on the next House episode. I wonder if she'll be able to get gluten-free food in the hospital.... (May 11, 2006)


I watched the subsequent episode and didn't see Kara anywhere. I also rewatched some of the Kara episode and noticed that House said that she should be put on an IV because it's gluten-free. (May 22, 2006)

Photo: David Marc Fischer

No comments: