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People are thinking about Celiac Disease and the possibility of gluten intolerance more often now than they have in the past. About 30% of people living in the United States are following some form of a gluten-free diet—either by choice or due to a medical condition.
Celiac Disease is a life-long condition affecting the small intestine. When a person with Celiac Disease eats, or is exposed to gluten (a protein found in food that contains rye, barley and wheat), his or her body destroys the intestinal villi—small, finger-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food. Damage to the villi means that nutrients from food cannot be properly absorbed by the body and can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, poor absorption of nutrients, potential weight loss, malnutrition and other serious side effects. No matter how much a person eats, he or she remains malnourished. When this happens to children, it can affect their growth and development. Once a child stops eating gluten, the villi heal and can absorb nutrients normally. But they should continue a life-long gluten free eating strategy.
Approximately 35-40% of people carry one or both Celiac genes—called HLA-DQ2 and DQ8. Those who carry one or both genes are considered to be "at risk" of developing Celiac Disease, although only a small percentage will actually develop the condition. In addition, children with certain conditions and/or syndromes may be more at risk for Celiac Disease.
The symptoms of Celiac Disease vary widely and are influenced by age.
Note that some children, particularly those in high-risk groups, will not show any symptoms until later in life and yet, are typically found to have Celiac Disease through a blood test.
In addition to Celiac Disease, there are two other classes of gluten-related disorders: wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
For Celiac Disease: Several tests are done to officially diagnose Celiac Disease. The first step is a blood test to look for certain antibodies—including tissue transglutaminase IgA. The level of these antibodies is usually high in people with Celiac Disease, but it is almost never increased in people without it. If the test is positive, a biopsy of the small intestine is recommended to confirm the diagnosis of Celiac Disease. The biopsy is usually collected during a test called an upper endoscopy—where a tube with a small camera on the tip is passed into the mouth and down the gastrointestinal tract and removes small pieces of the surface of the small intestine. The biopsy is not painful and is performed by a pediatric gastroenterologist while a child is sedated.
Other testing may include additional blood work for other antibodies such as deamidated gliadin IgG and endomysial IgA. Genetic testing may also be performed by taking a swab of the cheek; this is done in certain circumstances if the diagnosis of Celiac Disease is not certain.
The very tough choice that most doctors recommend, is for a child to continue to eat foods containing gluten until all testing is complete. Starting a gluten-free diet or avoiding gluten before testing may make it difficult to confirm the diagnosis. But this is a tough choice as the child suffers from nutritional and other health issues.
The only available treatment for Celiac Disease is a strict life-long, gluten-free diet—there is no medicinal treatment. It is important to limit cross-contamination—even crumbs containing gluten can lead to symptoms and intestinal inflammation. Additionally, gluten may be found in certain medications and in some non-food items such as shampoo and make-up. Let Mom’s Place Gluten Free help your family make the needed adjustments to a gluten-free lifestyle. Without treatment, children with Celiac Disease can go on to develop anemia, osteoporosis, and other complications.
Just because a food is labeled "gluten-free" does not mean it is better for you. Therefore, reading labels may not always be the most efficient way to remain healthy and symptom-free.
Parents of children who are newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease will need to speak to their child's teacher or child care provider about the condition, what foods are safe, and what to do in case of inadvertent exposure to gluten.
Bottom-line, when children manifest the symptoms above parents likely would want to explore Celiac testing or simply transition to a gluten free diet. Mom’s Place Gluten Free is here to help! Call or email us your questions or just come see us at our store! Our highly trained GF Specialists would be honored to help you & your family!Main Source: In this article, we used excerpts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to answer common questions about Celiac Disease, gluten-related disorders, and following how children can follow a gluten free diet.