Conditions + Treatments

Celiac Disease in Children

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Contact the Celiac Disease Program

  • 617-355-6058
  • International: +1-617-355-6058

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease, which comes from the Greek word for “abdominal,” is a lifelong intolerance to gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and also in oats that have been contaminated with gluten from other products. In people with celiac disease, gluten damages the lining of the intestines. This can prevent them from absorbing nutrients and cause a variety of other symptoms.

When food enters the stomach, it’s broken down into tiny digestible particles, which then travel through the small intestine. The small intestine is lined with villi — tiny finger-like projections that absorb nutrients from the food passing through. In celiac disease, gluten damages the intestine and causes the villi to break down, leaving a smooth lining that can no longer absorb nutrients. 

Celiac disease is far from uncommon. An estimated 1 in 133 people in the U.S. are affected by the condition — typically more girls than boys — and many are undiagnosed. 

As you build up your knowledge, living with celiac disease usually gets a lot easier with time. There is no “cure,” but lifelong avoidance of gluten is an effective treatment.

5 things to know about celiac disease

How we care for celiac disease

The experts in our Celiac Disease Program are some of the best in the country when it comes to diagnosing and helping families manage celiac disease with a gluten-free lifestyle. We also have a vibrant and active support group, Celiac Kids Connection with more than 350 member families.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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