A 7-year-old boy in Portugal broke his arm three times in two years, and doctors were mystified, Live Science reports. The breaks were caused by “minor to moderate pressure,” unlike, say, sports injuries, and the boy didn’t seem to have any underlying medical conditions that would lead to frequent breaks.
He exercised regularly, got enough dairy, and had normal levels of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Then doctors discovered the boy had celiac disease, according to a study published last month in BMJ Case Reports.
Previous studies have shown that up to 19% of kids with celiac disease have low bone-mineral density. The new study is a reminder of the importance of testing kids with frequent bone fractures for the disease and finding it early, before too much damage is done to the bones.
After the 7-year-old was diagnosed, doctors also found celiac disease in his older brother. A gluten-free diet can quickly bring bone mass up to normal levels in nearly all cases of celiac disease.
The boy in Portugal went gluten-free and hasn’t broken a bone in more than three years. (Another dietary danger: an obsession with “clean eating.”)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Boy’s Broken Bones Mystified Doctors