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Diagnosis and management of gluten intolerance in children

How to feed a child with celiac disease?

The diagnosis of celiac disease in children is more common than previously thought – about every 600th child in Europe suffers from gluten intolerance. However, you can rarely diagnose the disease right away. Read our article to learn more about this disease and how you should proceed if celiac disease is diagnosed in your children.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which regular consumption of the sticky protein gluten leads to permanent inflammation of the small intestine. The disease is most common between the ages of 1 and 8 and between the ages of 20 and 50. In celiac disease, the cells of the small intestinal mucosa die as a result of gluten ingestion and regenerate slowly. Over time, the mucosa becomes thinner and it becomes difficult to absorb important nutrients from food. You can not fully cure celiac disease. Affected people must follow a strict dietary plan for the rest of their lives. The cause of the celiac disease has not yet been fully investigated. However, scientists speculate that genetic predisposition is the cause.

Diagnosing celiac disease in children

Although the number of childhood diseases is relatively high, celiac disease in children is often diagnosed late. As long as children are fed only breast milk, the disease does not become apparent. If they then switch to gluten-containing foods, such as cereal or rusk, there are initially no symptoms. The child only begins to experience symptoms after about 3-6 months. However, many parents no longer associate this with the change in diet. Symptoms may be as follows:

  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • pallor
  • constant fatigue

Is the test enough?

Children with celiac disease are often underdeveloped. To make a diagnosis, a doctor takes a tissue sample from the intestine during an endoscopy. However, children can now be spared this procedure. A blood test is often decisive in making the diagnosis. The first clues you can obtain with a rapid home test. This home test uses a drop of blood from your finger to see if your blood contains IgA antibodies. If you will not detect these in the blood sample, celiac disease can be virtually ruled out. If your child continues to have the symptoms listed above, they must be of a different nature. A quick test will give you the first assurance.

How to feed a toddler with celiac disease?

Celiac disease in infants and toddlers is initially challenging for parents. It is worthwhile in this situation to talk to a specialist who will prepare an appropriate menu. It is not necessary to visit the office right away, Dietetyk Online can support you by phone or video chat even at the beginning of this journey. Vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products are gluten-free and you can eat them without any problems. You can also include to your diet plan certain grains such as rice, corn, millet, quinoa, potato flour, chickpea flour, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed. After the diagnosis, many parents cook their toddler’s porridge themselves. If you diagnose celiac disease in infancy, it is important that you talk to your children. Toddlers need to learn to cope with the disease and know which foods they can and cannot eat. 

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