Treating Pediatric Celiac Disease

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Pediatric Gastroenterology

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Celiac disease is a condition that arises from the body’s immune system reacting against gluten (a protein found in some grains) to cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The inflammation can also be found in other parts of the body, like the skin.


Some children with celiac disease don't feel symptoms. However, many children feel ill, sometimes worse after eating.  Common signs and symptoms in children include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Irritable or grumpy mood
  • Vomiting
  • Poor growth


Celiac disease is caused by genes that change the way a person’s body breaks down gluten, after it is eaten. The gluten then triggers the body’s immune system to cause inflammation.


Tests may include:

  • Blood tests, which should be done while your child is still having gluten in their diet.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with biopsy. Children with celiac disease will have damage to their villi (the tiny fingerlike projections that line the surface of the small intestine). This test should be done during the time your child is still eating food with gluten, which is the only way to see if the presence of gluten is damaging the villi (the damage is reversible).


Your child will need to start a strict, life-long, gluten-free diet. This will let the villi heal and begin to absorb nutrients again. Gluten must be removed, even if your child feels fine and doesn't have symptoms.