Does your child regularly get a stomach ache after eating bread, pasta, or pizza? Does he/she often have diarrhea, joint pain or prolonged fatigue? If your child is a girl, did her period start really late? All of these are symptoms that might point to celiac disease. To get the facts, check out this blog by Natasha Mendez, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterologist with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group.
What is celiac disease?
Affecting both children and adults, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten, a protein commonly found in bread, pasta, pizza, crackers, cereal, pastries, muffins and many other foods. Exposure to gluten results in inflammation of the small intestine. As a result, people with celiac disease are unable to break down certain foods containing gluten.
Symptoms that signal your child might have celiac disease
Classic celiac disease symptoms include:
- poor appetite
- difficulty gaining weight
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
- increased gas
- abdominal distention
- short stature
- delayed puberty
- joint pain
- brown/yellow teeth with pits or grooves
- a rash (dermatitis herpetiformis).
Are certain people high-risk for celiac disease?
If you have celiac disease, you probably inherited it from one or both parents and then developed the condition when you consumed gluten. You’re considered high risk if you:
- Are a first-generation relative of someone with celiac disease
- Have other autoimmune conditions such as autoimmune thyroiditis, type 1 diabetes or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Have Down syndrome, Turner syndrome or Williams syndrome
Can celiac disease be treated?
The treatment for this disease is a gluten-free diet, which should be followed all throughout life (not just in childhood). Make sure you read the labels on all prepared foods and condiments to ensure there is no gluten in the product.
Remember, “wheat-free” does not necessarily mean gluten-free. While oats are naturally gluten-free, oats can sometimes be contaminated with wheat during their processing. This is why you need to identify packaging that specifically states that the product is gluten-free and was processed in a gluten-free facility.
To learn more
- Celiac Support Forum
- Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- National Celiac Association
- Beyond Celiac
- Gluten Free Help Info
If you think your child may have celiac disease, please come see us
If your child is showing signs of celiac disease, please make an appointment with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners to come in and see one of our pediatricians. We will meet with you and your child, review the symptoms, possibly order some tests, and together with you, decide on the best course of action which may include avoidance of gluten. Whatever the diagnosis, our #1 goal is for your child to get answers and feel better as soon as possible. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Natasha Mendez’s blog in full, click here.