Celiac Disease in Children

If your child has celiac disease, consuming gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — sets off an autoimmune reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine. Eliminating gluten from your child’s diet is the only effective way to treat celiac disease.

Cross-Section of Small Intestine

The inner circle shows little protrusions affected by celiac disease.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Celiac disease can occur at any age, although it is uncommon in infants or toddlers. Celiac disease is found more commonly in children who have the following conditions:

  • Diabetes (type 1)
  • Down syndrome
  • Thyroid disease (autoimmune)
  • Turner syndrome
  • William syndrome

Celiac disease runs in families. Children with a sibling or parent with celiac disease are more likely to develop celiac disease themselves.

Symptoms of celiac disease in children include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and excess gas
  • Constipation
  • Delayed puberty
  • Dental disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Short stature or poor growth

Celiac disease may also have no symptoms.

Children can be screened for celiac disease with a blood test that looks for antibodies to gluten. A positive antibody blood test does not automatically mean that your child has celiac disease. It means that further testing must be done.

To make a diagnosis of celiac disease, we take a biopsy (a very small piece of tissue) from your child’s small intestine and examine it under a microscope. The biopsy is taken during a special procedure called an endoscopy. With celiac disease, the biopsy will show certain damage to the small intestine that is characteristic of the disease.

Mount Sinai pediatric gastroenterologists are experts at diagnosing celiac disease. If your child is found to have celiac disease, the team will help educate you and your child about living with celiac disease and how to maintain a gluten-free diet. We can provide expert psycho-social support to ensure that you and your family are well prepared to deal with the disease. Since celiac disease runs in families, we will also help with testing other children in your family.

We can help

Mount Sinai’s Digestive Disease Services consistently ranks in the top 10 across the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Please call us to learn how we can help you or a loved one. We are conveniently located in the Upper East Side of New York City.


Contact Us

Tel: 800-MD-SINAI (800-637-4624)