Celiac Disease

Many kids have sensitivities to certain foods, and the majority are not severe. Celiac disease, however, is a serious condition caused by a permanent intolerance for gluten–a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Pediatric Celiac Disease

If your child has celiac disease, consuming gluten will cause damage to finger-like projections, called villi, in the lining of your child’s small intestines.

Celiac disease is a life-long condition, but it is manageable through permanent modifications to the diet. Simply put, anyone with celiac disease must adhere to a gluten free diet. While this may seem daunting at first–especially for kids–you’ll find that many nutritious, tasty foods fit into this diet (including fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat, poultry–and even soft drinks and ice cream!) For more information and ideas, see our Gluten-Free Diet Guide.

Quick Facts on Celiac Disease:

  • Approximately 40,000 Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease.
  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, meaning it causes a person’s immune system to attack the body.
  • Symptoms of celiac disease can appear at any age after gluten is introduced into the diet.
  • Patients with celiac disease must follow a lifelong gluten free diet

Children are at higher risk for celiac disease if they have:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Down syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • Williams syndrome
  • A relative with celiac disease

Pediatric Celiac Disease and COVID-19

Celiac disease is not considered to be an immunocompromised state in children, and in itself is not known to be a risk factor for severe disease. Like everyone, children with celiac disease should exercise careful infection control practices, including washing hands with soap and water frequently and for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

Patients with other medical conditions should refer to their provider for further disease specific guidance and to information provided by local health authorities. COVID-19 Resources.

Educational support for the NASPGHAN Foundation’s Celiac Disease Education Campaign was provided by supporters University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research and Prometheus Therapeutics and Diagnostics.

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
The Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses
North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Foundation
The NASPGHAN Council For Pediatric Nutrition Professionals
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