Celiac disease is one of the most common conditions among children, affecting about one in 100. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologist at Kids and Tummies in Gulfport, Mississippi, has the expertise to diagnose and treat your child’s celiac disease so they can feel better and thrive again. To schedule an appointment, call the practice today or use the convenient online booking tool.
When a child has celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, eating gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. This results in damage to the microvilli, which are tiny finger-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food. Without healthy microvilli, a child’s intestines can’t absorb the vitamins and minerals needed for growth and good health.
The villain in celiac disease, gluten, is a protein found in certain grains, namely wheat, rye, and barley. When a child stops eating gluten, the small intestine can slowly heal so they feel better and can absorb nutrients properly.
The symptoms of celiac disease can vary according to your child’s age.
When your child starts eating solid foods, usually around the age of six months, the food can contain gluten. Damage to the intestines can cause malabsorption of nutrients, which slows down your child’s growth, causing them to fall behind on the growth charts.
Other symptoms of celiac disease at this young age include irritability, bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea.
At this age, vomiting becomes less common, but symptoms of gas, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal distention, and stomach pain can be prominent.
In the adolescent years, your child’s abdominal problems might include constipation, vomiting, and stomach pain. Other symptoms may include:
In some cases, your child might suffer from anxiety, depression, or panic attacks.
If they’re diagnosed with celiac disease, your child will need to follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of their life, so you’ll need to learn about which foods, medications, and other products may contain gluten. This involves reading product labels and learning about which foods may contain hidden gluten.
Typically, your child can enjoy a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, plain meats and fish, beans and legumes, and gluten-free grains. The team at Kids and Tummies can give you nutritional guidance to smoothly transition you to gluten-free living.
They also may refer you to a registered dietitian for further details on changes to make in your child’s eating plan. Some parents change their whole family to gluten-free eating to avoid the chance of cross-contamination of the affected child’s food.
To learn more about celiac disease and how it can be treated, call Kids and Tummies or book an appointment online today.