Gluten and Celiac Disease

Gluten and Celiac Disease

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If your child has been diagnosed with Celiac disease they must avoid eating gluten, a key protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease is a disease of the digestive system.  Specifically, the small intestine becomes damaged because the child is “allergic” to gluten.  The small intestine is responsible for absorbing all your nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.  Without a healthy small intestine, a child will become malnourished.  Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and cosmetics.

Scenario #1: 3-year-old girl with poor growth.  She is a picky eater and often complains of a stomach ache.  Her parents have noticed that her stomach often looks bloated.

Scenario #2: 10-year-old male boy with bouts of constipation or diarrhea.  He had been told in the past that he probably has a “sensitive” tummy but changes in his diet, and stool softeners have not improved his symptoms.

Scenario #3: 17-year-old completely healthy girl who recently broke her arm during a basketball game.  Her grandfather was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Symptoms of celiac disease can vary from person to person and often results in prolonged delays in diagnosis.  Symptoms of celiac disease can include:

  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • bloating
  • headaches
  • mood changes
  • rashes

Celiac disease can affect people all over the world.  Many newly diagnosed patients have no gastrointestinal symptoms at the time of diagnosis.  Screening for Celiac disease should be considered in children with a combination of persistent diarrhea and poor weight gain, weight loss, poor growth and children with recurrent gastrointestinal symptoms.  Children who are first degree relatives of an individual with confirmed Celiac disease should be screened because there is a 1 in 22 chance they may have Celiac disease.

Read more about Celiac Disease on our website.

Please contact your child’s physician or Dr. Mona Dave, Digestive Health & Nutrition in Children, a pediatric gastroenterologist if you feel your child may have Celiac Disease.