Celiac Disease Symptoms & Causes

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Contact the Celiac Disease Program

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

Celiac disease symptoms

The symptoms of celiac disease can be very different from child to child–and also dependent on age. The classic symptoms that are prevalent in children under the age of 3 include:

  • abdominal pain and/or cramps 
  • abdominal distension  (bloating)
  • diarrhea (loose stools)   
  • constipation (hard stools)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • decreased appetite
  • increased fatigue
  • weight loss or poor weight gain
  • short stature or poor growth
  • frequent mouth ulcers

Now that there are blood tests that can help establish a celiac disease diagnosis, and doctors are becoming increasingly familiar with atypical signs and symptoms, celiac disease is also increasingly being diagnosed in older children—in fact, the average age of diagnosis is currently around 9 years old.

These signs and symptoms include:

  • delayed puberty
  • behavioral problems
  • iron deficiency
  • osteopenia/osteoporosis
  • hepatitis
  • arthritis
  • infertility
  • migraines
  • seizures
  • neuropathy

Causes of celiac disease

Doctors haven’t yet figured out exactly how someone develops celiac disease. We do know that people with celiac disease always inherit one particular gene from a parent that makes them susceptible to the disease. But since many people have that gene but never develop CD, it’s likely that other genes play a part, too.  

Some researchers believe that celiac disease may be triggered by the combination of:

  • having the gene(s) that make you susceptible
  • exposure to gluten
  • exposure to a toxin or an infection (such as a rotavirus)
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