Celiac Disease in Children: Risks & Symptoms

Risk Factors

Children of any age, race or gender can develop celiac disease. However, there are some factors that can put a child at increased risk for celiac disease:

  • A Biological Relative with Celiac Disease
    Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease, so it is more common in those with a family history of the condition. Learn more about celiac disease in families here.
  • Some Autoimmune Conditions
    Having an autoimmune disorder makes you more likely to develop other autoimmune diseases, like celiac disease.
  • HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 Genes
    95% of people with celiac disease have either or both of the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 genes. Having one or both of these genes does not mean that you will definitely develop celiac disease. Having the genes simply means a person is at-risk for celiac disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms of celiac disease can vary, and they can appear at any age. Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all. In children, symptoms can appear as early as 6 months old. Irritability is a common symptom in children.

Other Symptoms Can Include:

  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating and gas
  • Fatigue
  • Damaged or discolored tooth enamel
  • Skin rashes (known as dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Delayed growth or puberty
  • Thin bones or frequent fractures
  • Failure to thrive
  • Short stature

By the time these symptoms have appeared, some reversible damage to the child’s small intestine has already occurred. If you think your child may have celiac disease, contact your pediatrician immediately.  He/she can order screening tests for celiac disease, or refer your child to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Click here for more information on celiac disease testing.

Children with No Celiac Disease Symptoms

Some children are asymptomatic, meaning they show no outward signs or symptoms of celiac disease. For these children, it is even more critical to identify risk factors and get tested, even if the child appears to be healthy.  This group of children typically represents those children with a family history of celiac disease.

 

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DO YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE CELIAC DISEASE?

Complete our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist today to find out if you could have celiac disease and how to talk to your doctor about getting tested.