If celiac disease symptoms go undiagnosed and untreated in a child, it can lead to stunted growth in a child. It can also lead to terminal illnesses such as cancer and diabetes later in life.
The disease is an ailment in which the body does not absorb the nutrients in the food that is ingested. This leads to ill health. It is triggered by intolerance of the body to gluten in foods. The sources of gluten in foods are wheat, rye, and barley. There are many foods that contain these elements or traces of them.
Therefore it is important to be aware of the symptoms of the disease in children and to deal with them.
At What Age Can The Disease First Appear?
Children can first show signs of the disease at any age. Infants can manifest the symptoms, shortly after having gluten introduced to their diets. Medical studies have shown that children who were introduced to gluten during the first three months of life had a five-times greater risk of developing celiac disease than children who were first exposed between four and six months of age. The symptoms in children typically become apparent three to five months after first consuming foods containing gluten, although for some few cases the interval may be as short as one month.
Children have a 5-10% chance of getting the disease, if someone in their family has it.
What Are The Symptoms Of Celiac Disease Children?
Acute diarrhoea is a common symptom to watch for in babies and children of all ages.
The physical symptoms you will see if your baby has the disease, will first appear soon after foods containing gluten are introduced into their diet, such as cereals and bread. Your baby’s symptoms may include:
- bulky and pale stools
- smelly diarrhoea
- a swollen stomach
- failure to gain weight and grow
Here are some of the physical symptoms of celiac disease children, after infancy. They may have:
- poor growth or no growth
- pale and smelly stools
- irregular heartbeat
- weight loss
- bloated belly
Behavioral symptoms to watch for are:
- Poor appetite
- Difficulty with concentration
- Memory difficulty
How To Treat (regard or think about) Children With The Disease
Parents of children, who have been newly diagnosed with the disease, may ask themselves the following type of questions:
How do we send them to school? How can we keep them from feeling different? How do we handle birthday parties and other special occasions? How can we talk to family and friends about this?
It is most important to treat the child in such a way that does not make the child feel different or inferior. Your attitude, and the attitude of extended family members, toward the child can have a significant impact on the mental and physical well being of the child.
It is also important to educate extended family – aunts, uncles and grandparents – and friends about the treatment of the child. You dont want them to convey an idea to the child that he/she is odd or different in some way. If a parent fails to manage this successfully, you may end up dealing with a child whose actual physical condition becomes worse than the celiac condition.
If you are constantly checking the the child for symptoms and questioning their behavior at school and when they are away from home, you will be focusing their attention on the illness. This is the reverse of what you want.
You want celiac disease children to think of themselves as normal, which they are in every way when they are on a diet free of gluten. The difference between them and any child who doesn’t suffer from the disease, is a physical intolerance to rye, wheat and barley products. The child can live a perfectly happy, healthy and active life, if they are taught to eat a gluten free diet and actually do so. To remain free of symptoms, they will need to remain on this diet for the rest of their lives.
Undiagnosed celiac disease in a child has serious implications for the health and well being of the child. Celiac disease children can develop terminal illnesses in later life if the disease is not diagnosed and treated. The only known treatment for celiac disease is a gluten free diet, which must be followed for the rest of the child’s life, in order to remain symptom free. This means that for a celiac child to live a normal, healthy and happy life, he or she must live a gluten free life. As the disease is not uncommon (1 in every 133 Ameicans suffer from it), can parents really afford ignorance of this disease?