Celiac Awareness Month — Learn about celiac disease from AboutKidsHealth

For Celiac Awareness Month, AboutKidsHealth is sharing information and resources on celiac disease. Read on to learn about celiac disease and the importance of following a strict gluten-free diet to treat the condition.

Celiac disease is very different from a wheat allergy

Children with a wheat allergy react to one or more proteins in wheat, and they will usually outgrow the allergy by school age. Celiac disease, however, is an autoimmune disease, and it is a lifelong condition.

In people with celiac disease, any contact with gluten (a different family of proteins found in grains) triggers a reaction from the body’s immune system, which results in damage to lining of the gut (small intestine). When the gut is damaged,

  • it becomes difficult to absorb nutrients (malabsorption);

  • the lack of nutrients due to malabsorption may affect growth and development; and

  • it also may cause digestive system (gastrointestinal) symptoms, such as diarrhea and stomach pain.

Treatment

There is no medication for celiac disease; the only treatment is maintaining a strict gluten-free diet for life. Sticking to this diet will help improve the symptoms of celiac disease and will keep your child healthy.

For more information on celiac disease, including signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and tips for keeping to a gluten-free diet, check out the following AboutKidsHealth resources:

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids' health education website, which offers more than 3,500 articles, illustrations and videos on a range of paediatric health topics. For more information on celiac disease and other health topics, visit aboutkidshealth.ca