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Celiac Disease in Children


  • No parents want to hear that their child has a chronic illness, but the good news is that celiac disease (CD) is always treatable by changes in diet. This means that your child can avoid side effects associated with medicine, and as a bonus, often the whole family eats more healthily after a member is diagnosed with celiac disease.

    Celiac disease 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.

    • Celiac disease is far from uncommon—recent studies suggest that an estimated 1 in 133 people in the United States are affected by the condition, and many are undiagnosed.

    • There is no “cure” for celiac disease, but lifelong avoidance of gluten is effective treatment.

    • CD tends to affect more girls than boys.

    • There’s a strong hereditary component with celiac disease.

    • Living with celiac disease usually gets a lot easier with time, as you build up your knowledge.

    How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches 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 with more than 350 member families. For more information about the support group, please call 617-355-2127 or email us at celiacsupportgroup@childrens.harvard.edu.


    Celiac disease: Reviewed by Alan M. Leichtner, MD, FAAP
    © Boston Children’s Hospital, 2011

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