As some of you know, I'm a world war II history buff. However, until I read one of Bette Hagman's books, I had no idea how centrally WWII -- and the post-war European food crises -- figured into the diagnosis of celiac disease.
As paraphrased on http://www.celiac.com/:
"Another important marker in the history of celiac disease were the findings by Dutch pediatrician, Dr. Willem Karel Dicke. In 1953 Dr. Dicke wrote his doctoral thesis for the University of Utrecht based on his observations that the ingestion of wheat proteins specifically, and not carbohydrates in general, were the cause of celiac disease. He was able to exemplify his findings based on bread shortages in the Netherlands during World War II. During the bread shortages, he found that the health of children with celiac improved tremendously. However, when the allied planes began dropping bread to the Netherlands, the same children quickly deteriorated."
A miracle, really -- first, that anyone was paying attention to the stomachs of small Dutch children while Europe was in chaos and denial; second, that someone realized that the problem was wheat protein and not one of the myriad other food storage problems that existed at the time.
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