What is Celiac Disease?

celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barely, rye and occasionally oats. It causes your body to attack itself which leads to inflammation in the lining of the small intestines. About 1% of the world’s population has celiac disease and it is estimated that about 80% of cases are not yet diagnosed. It is more common in females than males. There are certain populations who are at increased risk which includes kids with:


Children with celiac disease can present with a wide range of symptoms that can range from very mild to severe. This is why it can be hard to diagnose. GI symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, bloating, reflux, poor weight gain/weight loss, diarrhea, and abdominal distension. There are other non-GI symptoms which include skin rashes, dental defects, short stature, delayed puberty, fatigue, headaches, and behavioral problems. Some patients have no symptoms at all.


When a child has symptoms concerning for celiac disease, a blood test can be preformed that is used as a screening tool to help us decide if they may have celiac disease. If that blood test is positive, the diagnosis is then confirmed by an upper endoscopy, which is the gold standard for diagnosing celiac disease. Celiac disease is a patchy illness, so it is important that multiple biopsies are obtained in the small intestine to ensure proper diagnosis.


The only therapy available to treat celiac disease currently is a gluten-free diet. It is a life-long illness so patients need to stay gluten free for the rest of their life. Symptoms typically resolve after several weeks on the gluten-free diet. It is important to recheck blood work to make sure children are responding to the diet.

Gluten-free tips

Helpful if the whole household is gluten free to prevent any cross contamination. Otherwise, it is helpful to have separate cooking utensils such as pots and pans. It may also be helpful to have a separate toaster.

It is important when going out to eat, that you also ask these questions as some restaurants still cook on the same surfaces.

Celiac awareness month
PB Digestive Pediatric Doctors

Your Pediatric Team at PB Digestive

Sari M. Kay, MD is a board-certified Pediatric Gastroenterologist. She has a specialties and expertise in treating patients with inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, constipation, infant reflux, and functional GI disorders.

Laura E. Irastorza, MD is a board-certified Pediatric Gastroenterologist. She has expertise in treating patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, constipation, reflux, and functional GI disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

 Palm Beach Digestive Associates
Palm Beach Digestive Associates

As the premier Gastroenterology Practice & Colonoscopy Clinic in South Florida, Palm Beach Digestive Associates offers the knowledge and experience valued by patients who are suffering from Digestive Problems and Liver Disease. From the most common stomach ailments to the most serious gastrointestinal issues, our Board Certified specialists are highly skilled in evaluating and treating every type of Liver and Digestive Disorder, as well as the detection and treatment of Colon Cancer.

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