Celiac disease in children usually manifests itself by the time the child is weaned. The child is perfectly normal until gluten is introduced in the diet.
The first symptom of celiac disease in children is that they refuse feeds and fail to gain weight and, in some cases, height.
The child becomes irritable, listless and pot-bellied (large, swollen abdomen) while the child’s stools become large, pale or tan in color and offensive in smell and the child may develop diarrhea.
Another sign indicating celiac disease in children is that the stools tend to float due to large amounts of gas (flatus) and fat trapped in the stool.
The child may vomit occasionally but with the consumption of certain gluten-rich foods may exhibit projectile vomiting. Many pediatric experts recommend against the introduction of gluten-containing cereals till the child is about six months old.
Celiac disease in children older than three years is more difficult to diagnose because the poor appetite, anemia and poor growth are symptoms common to many other childhood conditions.
The child will also be irritable, have difficulty in concentrating and have a poor memory. During puberty, celiac disease in children seems diminished though this is a fallacy since the underlying biochemical abnormality still exists.
This view is borne out by the fact that the symptoms of celiac disease in children reappear once the child is out of the stage of puberty. It is, therefore, very essential that the gluten-free diet that has been prescribed must be continued throughout.
While gluten remains in the diet, celiac disease in children continues to manifest itself through mood swings, depression, reduced learning and failure in following straightforward directions.
While assessing celiac disease in children, it must be kept in Ā mind that the amount of intestinal tissue damage is the same for children and adults, but since children have a faster rate of cell replacement, the damage may be repaired to a certain extent.
Gluten concentration is maximum in the upper portion of the small intestine (which lies just beyond the duodenum) and this is, thus, the place where maximum damage to the bowel occurs due to the immunological attack.
The only treatment till date is the lifelong avoidance of gluten and the child must be helped to accept that there will be foods that his /her friends will be able to eat but which are anathema for him/her.
Celiac Disease in children is traumatic enough without giving the child a huge list of “what you can’t eat” things. It is better and more beneficial for the child to have lists of “what you can eat” items on the refrigerator, at school and at restaurants. It also helps if the child is encouraged to have his/her own “snack drawer” or “snack box” where gluten-free snacks can be kept.
Celiac disease in children needs to be explained in as much detail as the child can understand and accept to enable the child to willingly inculcate the gluten-free diet.
It can be very difficult sometimes to diagnose a child with Celiac disease since the symptoms are related to other diseases as mentioned prior.
With this said, irritability has been shown to be one of the main symptoms to diagnosing your child with celiac disease.
Don’t get too alarmed if your child is irritable, it doesn’t automatically mean they have celiac disease, it could simply be that they are having a bad day.
Prolonged irritability though should be taken seriously and then it may be time to visit the doctor so that the necessary tests can be taken. So What are the symptoms of celiac disease in children? We will know all these below
Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children
Other symptoms for celiac disease also known as CD in children are
Sudden Weight Loss
If you’ve noticed that your child has actually stopped growing, this can also be a sign of alarm, as stunted growth is a symptom of celiac disease in Children.
As a word of caution, some kids are late developers, so this is also not a sure sign. This is what makes diagnosing CD on your own a very difficult task.
If you see any potential warning signs, to put your mind at ease it’s always best to visit the doctor for an official diagnosis.
Children need nutrition to enable them to grow into healthy adults, and unfortunately, this disease blocks your child from being able to extract the nutrients from the food, therefore the child can become very malnourished over a period of time.
If you’re concerned that your child may have this, please take the time to visit your doctor, as it’s a very serious condition that affects many young children.