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Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease which causes the body of the baby or child to attack the insides of the small intestine following the ingestion of gluten.
Gluten is a dietary protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Coeliac disease can present at any age, so even if your baby or child has had gluten before and did not have symptoms they could have developed coeliac disease since. Foods containing gluten include:
In a baby or child with coeliac disease, their ability to absorb energy and nutrients from food will be impaired due to the inflammation and destruction of the small intestine. The inflammation and destruction occurs secondary to the disease, increasing your baby or child's risk of malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies and faltering growth. Our dietitian at the Kids Feeding Team can assess your baby or child with coeliac disease and ensure their diet is nutritionally adequate and they can grow to their full potential.
If your baby or child is suffering from coeliac disease our specialist dietitians can help. To book an assessment please contact us.
Coeliac disease is often diagnosed in babies and children with another condition such as iron deficiency anemia or faltering growth. The symptoms can range greatly between babies and children, with some presenting with no symptoms at all. Symptoms of coeliac disease are:
If your baby or child has one or more of these symptoms described, they could have coeliac disease. To get a diagnosis you should see your baby or child's GP so the appropriate tests can be carried out and they can get a diagnosis. To talk to our dietitians to see if they can help, please contact us.
Coeliac disease in an autoimmune condition which means that the immune system of your baby or child is attacking the gluten, and therefore the healthy cells, of the digestive system after the ingestion of gluten. The exact cause of coeliac disease is not known but a baby or child is more likely to have coeliac disease if they have another autoimmune condition such as type 1 diabetes.
If your baby or child has coeliac disease their bodies will produce antibodies after ingestion of gluten. To diagnose coeliac disease, a blood test from your GP will be carried out and test your baby or child's blood for antibodies which present if your baby or child has coeliac disease. If your baby or child's blood test shows positive they can then be sent for a gut biopsy which will finalise the diagnosis. Your baby or child must still be having a diet containing gluten at this stage to ensure the antibodies are being produced. We understand that if you baby or child is presenting with symptoms which are causing them pain or discomfort with a diet containing gluten you may want to exclude gluten, therefore we can treat coeliac disease without a diagnosis.
There is no cure for coeliac disease and the only treatment is to follow a gluten free diet. It is very important for your baby or child to follow the gluten free diet, even if they don't seem to exert any of the symptoms. The symptoms of coeliac disease do not always present on the outside of the body, but the small intestine and microvilli will still be getting attacked upon digestion of gluten, thereby increasing their risk of iron deficiency anemia, malnutrition and faltering growth. The microvilli are tiny projectors found in the small intestine and are responsible for the absorption of the food and nutrients your baby or child is eating. Long term damage to the microvilli in the gut can increase their risk of long-term associated conditions such as cancers, faltering growth and failure to thrive. Once a gluten free diet is being followed the microvilli and small intestine will be able to heal to the healthy condition of a baby or child without coeliac disease.
It can be difficult to ensure your baby or child is getting a healthy, balanced diet while trying to be gluten free, we can help. To speak to our dietitians please contact us.