Also known as: gluten intolerance, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, celiac sprue, nontropical sprue
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s own immune system attacks itself as if it were a foreign invader. In the case of celiac disease, gluten, a protein present in wheat, rye and barley, causes the body’s immune system to attack and damage the lining of the small intestine, which leads to difficulties in absorbing foods ( this is called malabsorption ). Some children develop symptoms as soon as gluten is introduced into the diet ( 6-9 months of age ), others may only fall ill after years of exposure.
What causes celiac disease?
Celiac disease results when a childs’ hereditary genetic abnormality is exposed to a dietary trigger ( gluten ). It is one of the most common genetic diseases in the world, with a child of a parent or sibling with the disease having a 10% chance of developing celiac disease.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
As celiac disease progresses, it can cause a variety of digestive symptoms ( some mild, some severe ) including diarrhea ( which may contain blood ), poor appetite, vomiting, abdominal bloating and pain, and in older children, constipation, and oily stools. Over time, the disease leads to weight loss, failure to thrive, irritability, delayed growth, thin bones, teeth problems, fatigue, behavior issues and even ADHD in some children. Adolescents may experience late puberty, depression, skin rash, and mouth sores.
What are celiac disease care options?
Since celiac disease cannot be cured, children with the condition will always need to adhere to a gluten-free diet to avoid symptoms and damage to the intestines. Dietary supplements are sometimes required to help with nutrition in those with celiac disease.
This page was last updated on: March 20, 2019 04:06 PM
Pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Luis Caicedo Oquendo discusses the most common issues associated with gluten in this edition of "You've Asked ... We've Answered."