Celiac disease is an allergy of a small intestine. When it comes into contact with gluten (protein present in most grains), small intestinal mucosa loses its fractured texture and becomes smooth.
Because of this, intestine loses the ability to absorb nutrients (see malabsorption). Disease is almost always discovered and diagnosed in infancy or early childhood.
Symptoms usually begin to appear several weeks after the parents start giving grains to their baby (around the fourth or fifth month). A child is not gaining enough weight (or even loses weight) and may have a low appetite, which further slows down his progress. Baby’s stools are soft, pale, abundant, and unpleasant smelly, and accompanied by strong winds. Because of the air in the intestine baby’s stomach may expand. In some cases, ulcers appear in the mouth.
Celiac disease is a rare disease. The child will be somewhat more vulnerable if there is someone in the family has this disorder.
In very rare cases, when celiac disease has not been detected in infancy, a permanent stagnation in growth may occur. A child with this illness will also be prone to severe infections.
What to do?
If your child has the symptoms we described, take it to a doctor. If a doctor suspects that your child has celiac disease, he will refer it to the blood and stool tests. If those tests show the possibility of celiac disease, it will be necessary to do a biopsy of intestinal mucosa. This biopsy will confirm whether the child is suffering from celiac disease or not.
Gluten in wheat, rye and other cereals should be excluded from child’s diet. A dietician (diet expert) will provide you instructions on a special diet. The baby may eat corn and rice, but will have to eat special bread and biscuits, and you can make pies and cakes only from flour in which there is no gluten. All this will be prescribed by your doctor. A few weeks after the beginning of diet, the symptoms will disappear and the infant will begin to gain weight and progress normally.
Even though the child has celiac disease, he/she will live a normal life if certain nutrition is maintained. At an adult age, it may be possible to eat a limited amount of food that contains gluten without any consequences. However, most doctors believe that such foods should be avoided.