Kids can be sensitive to certain foods without any severity. But, celiac disease is a serious condition that can lead to several imbalances while growing up.
Celiac disease is a serious condition that originated from having a intolerance for gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley which are all foods that are considered nutritious and essential for a child’s development. When a child has celiac disease, ingesting gluten can harm the small intestine. The small intestine is lined with villi which are small fingerlike projections that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi is damaged, the body doesn’t receive the optimum nutrition from the foods that are consumed by the child. This condition is hereditary and if you have a first-degree relative in the family with Celiac Disease, you have a 1 in 10 risk of developing the condition.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Children
Experts say that there are about 300 possible symptoms of celiac disease in children. Many times the condition can be misdiagnosed for irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance. Infants and kids usually have digestive problems that can stem from picking up things in their surrounding and putting them in their mouth or swallowing them.
Symptoms of celiac disease can occur at any point of time in a kid’s life. Some experience the symptoms the first time they consume gluten while others can develop the condition after safely ingesting gluten products for several years.
An infant can show initial symptoms of celiac disease when they start to consume solid foods like cereal. The outcome of this can be stomach ache, diarrhea and not gaining weight at a proper pace. Skin rashes can also develop around the elbows, knees and bum. In the long run, the child can develop anemia and mouth sores and become withdrawn and irritable.
Growth problems- Infants may not gain weight and height as expected (a condition called failure to thrive.) Most infants gain weight and grow steadily in their initial years. These kids can also have poor linear growth. Since children grow differently and at different rates, only being shorter than average isn’t enough to qualify a child for growth problems. A child is considered to have short stature if he is shorter than 95% to 97% of his peers. Even in this case, so long as your child has had a steady growth rate, there is nothing to worry about. Your cue to worry arises when they suddenly halt their growth. When this happens, check with your pediatrician for any problems.
Digestive problems- A drastic and consistent decrease in appetite and failure to gain weight is a result of having digestive problems and is a common symptom of celiac disease. Another indicator of digestive problems is if the child experiences chronic diarrhea, which can sometimes also be bloody.
Signs of malnutrition- This stems from having digestive problems. Celiac disease patients experience this because of the body’s inability to absorb essential nutrients. The stomach can expand and the thighs become thin and the buttocks flat.
Fatigue- Fatigue stems from the inability of the body to absorb the required nutrients from the food ingested. If your child becomes tired easily and is moody and irritated, you may want to go and get them checked for celiac disease.
Chronic constipation- A child usually has bowel movements one to three times a day. Going longer than three or more days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the feces becomes hard and difficult to pass. When this condition persists more than a few times in a month, it may be a sign that something is amiss and needs to be checked. Sometimes chronic constipation can also lead to vomiting and intense abdominal pain along with abdominal bloating.
Irritability- Many kids with undiagnosed celiac disease show signs of chronic irritability, albeit researchers are yet to analyse exactly why this happens. It could spring from not feeling too well or could be because of possible vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids have an affect on mood and nerve function. Several kids with celiac disease also have deficiencies in vitamin D, zinc and iron. Keep a vigilant eye on your child and you can notice if the food they are ingesting and is making them irritable.
ADHD- A diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in your child could be an indication of celiac disease. Researchers say that as many as 15% of people with ADHD may have celiac disease and eating a gluten-free diet relieves these ADHD symptoms quickly and thoroughly.
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