How Do I Know If My Child Has Celiac?

toast-gluten-540x304In today’s society, there is a lot of talk about gluten-free diets because more and more people, including children, have gluten sensitivity. The good news is restaurants are now offering gluten-free options and grocery stores have larger food selections that are “gluten-free”. Diet plays an integral role in feeling better if your child has been diagnosed with celiac disease: the only treatment for celiac disease currently is a strict, gluten-free diet. So, how do you know if your child does indeed have celiac?

Although the signs and symptoms tend to vary slightly between children with celiac, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children with the onslaught happening at any age. Other common signs that your child is suffering from a gluten allergy include either chronic diarrhea or constipation, bloating and gas, exhaustion, skin rashes and damaged or discolored tooth enamel. In some more severe cases, children may even experience vomiting after consuming foods that include wheat, rye and/or barley.

Want to find out if your son or daughter has celiac? The first step to is to schedule an appointment with our office so we can discuss their symptoms and also have your child take a blood test.

Don’t let the signs of celiac drag on for too long. If you begin to notice that your child has any of the symptoms associated with celiac, it’s important to contact Dr. Shaw or Dr. Kellow to discuss your options sooner rather than later. Often, children with celiac have a decrease in appetite, causing little weight gain. While other children in their class have grown or reached puberty, often children suffering from celiac have delayed growth, thinner bones and even experience more fractures due to an iron deficiency.

It’s also important to know that celiac disease is a genetic condition that often runs in families. If you or a close family member are suffering from gluten sensitivity, there is a higher risk that your children will also have this condition. Up to 22 percent of celiac patients have a blood relative who also has celiac. However, there is good news! Many children diagnosed with celiac can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of tasty foods, including bread and pasta. Gluten-free options can be made with potatoes, rice, soy or even bean flour. Meat, fish, veggies and fruit are gluten-free and healthy, so indulging in a proper diet is not at all impossible.

If your child is diagnosed with celiac, it’s important to keep a positive attitude about the discovery. First, let them know that the gluten-free marketplace has expanded into a bigger variety of food to include even tasty treats like cupcakes and cookies. Let them know they won’t have to eat broccoli instead of birthday cake! Secondly, changing their diet is the only way to treat celiac at this time. No medicine required! In many patients, a gluten-free diet change works almost like magic, making symptoms disappear quickly once the change is made in their daily consumption of food. It’s important to keep a positive attitude about a gluten-free lifestyle not only for your child, but for the entire family. Once your child starts feeling better, it will be easier to celebrate.

Today, living with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease is more manageable than ever. An estimated 3 million Americans have celiac, but research states that even more of the population are likely suffering from the condition. Because of these statistics, research continues and food manufacturers are working towards more gluten-free options to accommodate the trend.

Doctors Shaw and Kellow are happy to discuss gluten sensitivity and celiac if you believe your child may be suffering from symptoms associated with gluten. Call the Association of Childcare Physicians today at 618-235-2311 to schedule an appointment or visit us online.