Celiac Disease and Down Syndrome
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs when abnormal cell division causes an individual to develop an extra chromosome. Having an extra chromosome means that these people have more genetic material than the normal human would.
Each individual with Down syndrome is unique and may suffer from different intellectual and developmental delays. Some physical characteristics of Down syndrome include small stature, an upward slant of eyes, flattened facial features and low muscle tone.
People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for other medical conditions, such as heart defects, leukemia, infectious disease and obesity.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal disorder, affecting 1 in every 691 babies born in the US.
What is the Connection between Celiac Disease and Down syndrome?
- Although research into the relationship between Down syndrome and celiac disease was scant as late as the 1990s, studies in 2018 and 2019 show three to six percent of those with Down syndrome have celiac disease compared to one percent in the general population.
- Children with Down syndrome and celiac disease may have typical symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, or poor growth, but they may also have atypical symptoms like behavioral changes or anemia
- Experts recommend frequent celiac disease screening in people living with Down syndrome because of their increased risk. Having the genetic test for celiac disease early on could help parents of children with Down syndrome be aware if there is a risk
- There is no benefit to parents of children with Down Syndrome putting a child on a gluten-free diet without a diagnosis of celiac disease
Where can I learn more?
- National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS)
- National Institutes of Health
- Mayo Clinic
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
- MassGeneral Down Syndrome Program
Do you or a family member have Down syndrome? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.