Diagnosis Of Celiac Disease In Children: Its Signs And Symptoms

When we discuss celiac disease, it’s something to do with the intestine. In Greek, the word celiac means abdomen. Celiac disease is the result of intolerance to gluten. It is chronic reaction in the small intestine which is triggered after eating gluten containing food. Gluten is type of protein which is found in cereals such as wheat, barley, rye.

In a child having celiac disease, the symptoms may start to appear after 5 months. It is the time when child is put on whining, that means parents start giving semisolid and liquid food.

Some of this food may contain gluten. A child having celiac disease may thrive well for few months, but as soon as he is fed with solid food containing gluten the symptoms begin to appear.

Let us know what happens in celiac disease.

The food that you eat enters the stomach, after which it moves into the small intestine. It is here the absorption of nutrients from the food occurs. This absorption is carried out by tiny finger like villi present in small intestine. In celiac disease, these tiny villi are attacked and destroyed by gluten.

Thus the child may have deficiency of vitamins, minerals and calcium.

The exact cause for celiac disease is not known. But the disease probably runs in family, it is probably the genetic component. How the disease is passed on still remains undetermined.

Signs And Symptoms Of Celiac Disease In Children

The symptoms of celiac disease may vary from one child to another. It also depends on the age of the child. Here are some of the main symptoms that the child may have.

  • Poor appetite.
  • Poor growth or retardation of growth.
  • The child starts to refuse food and becomes irritable.
  • There is no weight gain.
  • His abdomen becomes large and he becomes listless.
  • Large stools which are pale and floating due to large amount of fat and water in it. Stools are loose.
  • Vomiting especially after eating gluten containing food.
  • Tiredness.
  • The child appears anemic and pale.
  • Child is not able to concentrate and becomes cranky.

Diagnosing Celiac Disease In Children

Celiac disease in children is difficult to diagnose as there are wide spectrum of symptoms. Many times it remains undiagnosed for years. If the child is suspected of having celiac disease or if there is a history of celiac disease in the family, the child should be consulted with a pediatric gastroenterologist. The first thing that he may suggest is to screen the child by doing blood test.

However, this blood test should not be done in infants who are yet to start gluten diet. One such sensitive blood test includes tissue transglutaminase antibody test. The other test is IgA deficiency. It has been noted that patient having celiac disease are more deficient in IgA than general population.

If the screening of blood is positive for celiac disease, the gastroenterologist may decide to take a small biopsy from the intestine and look under the microscope for abnormality. The change seen in biopsy material confirms the diagnosis of celiac disease in children. Once the diagnosis is made, the physician advises the parents to give the child gluten free diet.