Celiac disease affects kids, too
Celiac disease may be difficult to identify in kids. Learn what signs and symptoms you should bring up to your doctor and how to embark on a gluten-free diet if your child has been diagnosed.
According the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, around one in 141 Americans has celiac disease. Many of these individuals are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Be aware of the symptoms of celiac disease in children and learn how to adapt to a gluten-free diet, the only way to treat this disease.
Broad symptoms of celiac disease in kids
“Symptoms can vary from kid to kid; they may have one symptom or 10 symptoms,” says Kristi King, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. She explains that kids can experience symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, significant gas, bloating, increased irritability, fatigue, decreased appetite and failure to gain appropriate weight and height.
Sneaky symptoms of celiac disease in kids
Gastroenterologist Dr. Stacey Weiland cautions parents that children with celiac disease can also have symptoms that don’t involve the GI tract, such as mouth ulcers, skin conditions and problems with the teeth. “Children with celiac disease have an increased prevalence of other autoimmune conditions including thyroid disease and diabetes, as well as seizures, anxiety, depression, peripheral neuropathy, cerebellar ataxia and migraines,” says Weiland, who says that kids with celiac disease may also have vitamin deficiencies.
A celiac disease success story
Last year, Holly’s oldest daughter, Marie, was diagnosed with celiac disease. At 14, Marie had to begin a gluten-free diet, the only treatment for celiac. Because her mother and sister have celiac disease, Holly had some familiarity with a cooking and shopping for a gluten-free diet. Over the past year, middle schooler Marie has adapted to her gluten-free diet, and even uses a smartphone to look up foods when she’s dining out. Holly offers parents some tips: