Childhood illnesses

Tests to know if a child is celiac


Celiac disease is not an allergy or a food intolerance, but rather is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1% of the populationAlthough many of these patients are not diagnosed or are not correctly diagnosed, since several of the symptoms of celiac disease can be confused with other diseases of the gastrointestinal tract such as irritable bowel (or colon) syndrome. How to know if your child has this disease? What are the tests to know if a child has celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is consumed. The result can be severe damage to the intestinal villi that prevent the absorption of certain essential nutrients for the body. The latest research has revealed that people with celiac disease carry certain genes that make them more vulnerable to developing the disease, although at the moment it is unknown why.

However, the presence of these genes is not enough to ensure the diagnosis, since only 40% of the carriers of the genes develop the disease in their lifetime. What must be taken into account is that, by having this genetic component, when one of the parents or siblings suffers from celiac disease, the chances of being affected are multiplied by 10 (10% chance of developing celiac disease at some point in life ).

The symptoms of celiac disease can be more or less severe, and include gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, persistent stomach pain, constipation, tiredness and irritability, mouth ulcers, sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, anemia ...

In addition, symptoms in children include growth problems and even a delay in development or in reaching puberty. Additionally, some patients may show a skin condition known as dermatitis herpetiformis, which generally appears symmetrically in areas of greatest friction, such as the elbows or knees. These lesions are generally reddened, inflamed areas with vesicles or blisters and that manifest with incessant itching.

When a child develops dermatitis herpetiformis, it is likely that, in addition to visiting the dermatologist to treat the eczema or keep it under control, they will need a biopsy of the intestinal villi to confirm celiac disease, something that is often tried to avoid in children.

Unfortunately, the only treatment for this disease is a strict diet in which gluten consumption is avoided 100%, and, although it seems trivial, without treating, celiac disease can lead, in addition to a growing series of very uncomfortable symptoms, into diseases derived from the malabsorption of certain nutrients.

When celiac disease does not manifest with dermatological symptoms, the diagnosis can be complicated, and lead to atrophy of the intestinal villi, which can lead to anemia and osteoporosis in childhood.

Generally the first step to initiate the diagnosis consists of answering a series of questions whose answers will reveal a question about the disease. Depending on these answers, the following diagnostic steps will or will not be implemented. A blood test is usually revealing, and, in that case, the child will be referred by his pediatrician to the specialist to continue with the diagnosis.

Diagnosis without confirmatory biopsy is possible although it requires conscientious follow-up during childhood and frequent blood tests to ensure the reality of the diagnosis, confirming the presence of antibodies against gluten in high amounts.

In general, if your child exhibits any of the symptoms listed above inexplicably or that last for more than two weeks, you should consider a visit to the pediatrician to rule out the possibility of celiac disease.

However, it is extremely important that you do not eliminate any food from your diet, as this can alter the results of the tests preventing a sure diagnosis, which can mean more annoying tests for your little one and more time dragging the uncomfortable symptoms of celiac disease.

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