Gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or celiac disease, is an immune system reaction to a particular protein found in some foods. A. John Yazdi, MD, with Pediatric Gastroenterology of Colorado Springs in Colorado Springs, Colorado, helps his patients and their families understand how and why eating gluten causes a problem for children with celiac disease, along with ways to avoid it. If you suspect your child has celiac disease, make an appointment now to see Dr. Yazdi and get a proper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan.
Celiac disease is the medical name for an immune system reaction to the protein gluten. It’s very similar to an allergic reaction to food.
When the patient eats anything that contains gluten, the body responds to it with inflammation. Over time, these immune system responses damage the lining of the small intestine in a way that keeps it from properly absorbing nutrients.
For kids, this malabsorption is a severe issue because it can interfere with their growth and development. There is no cure for celiac disease, so once diagnosed, it’s a problem a child deals with their whole life.
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains. It is the component that gives dough made with wheat flour its elasticity. That’s why it's often present in bread and other kinds of baked goods. Other everyday products that can contain gluten include:
There are even products with hidden gluten like:
It’s important for kids who have a sensitivity to gluten to avoid it. For parents, it’s best to ask if something has gluten in it if there is any doubt, even in a restaurant or bakery. Dr. Yazdi can help families pinpoint foods that contain gluten, too.
They vary based on several factors, including age. The symptoms are different in children than they are for adults, too. For kids under the age of two, parents should watch for:
Dr. Yazdi examines babies for signs like poor growth and development. They might indicate malabsorption that can happen with celiac disease. Older children often experience:
They may also have neurological symptoms, including ADHD and learning disabilities.
The best way to manage celiac disease is to avoid gluten. With Dr. Yazdi’s help, children learn how to live their lives avoiding the protein. Once the gluten is gone, the small intestine heals after several weeks, and the symptoms disappear.