Baby

Celiac Disease – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Celiac disease is a disorder of the body’s immune system. The disorder occurs in babies and adults alike. Babies with the disorder remain intolerant to gluten, a type of protein commonly found in such food stuff as barley, rye, wheat and other grains.

The condition occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to the presence of gluten in the intestines, a reaction that leads to damage of villi, the tiny projections in the intestine that absorb nutrients contained in food, nutrients that a baby’s body needs to grow and develop. Damage to the villi easily leads to malnutrition since the baby lacks the necessary nutrition components.

Symptoms

Celiac disease can present varied symptoms, which can show at any stage of a baby’s life. While some babies show symptoms soon after feeding on food containing gluten, others only come to show the symptoms when they are older when they have been feeding on foods containing the protein.

Babies with the disorder normally show symptoms when solid food stuff are introduced into their diet. They are mostly likely to develop diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating and skin rashes on the knees, buttocks, and elbows. Continuous consumption of food stuff containing gluten leads to loss of weight. A baby becomes anemic in extreme cases and is bound to develop mouth sores.

Causes

It is not clear what causes celiac disease. It is also not clear what triggers or why the body’s immune system reacts to the presence of gluten in the intestines. However, a number of theories have been advanced. Different medical experts link occurrence of the disease to such other diseases and syndromes as diabetes mellitus, William’s syndrome, a disorder of the thyroid and Down syndrome. Celiac disease is also believed to run in families. It has indeed been observed that babies diagnosed as having the condition are from families with a history of gluten intolerance.

Treatment

There is no cure for celiac disease. Pediatricians normally recommend the appropriate blood tests that determine the level of gluten antibodies in a baby’s intestines. The presence of high levels of the antibodies necessitates the need to have a small sample of the intestines for further testing. The sample is obtained through endoscopy, which involves insertion of a long and thin tube through a baby’s mouth down to the small intestine under sedation.

The only treatment option available is food selection. A pediatrician will normally refer such a baby to a nutritionist for advice on the right types of food stuff that such a baby need to be fed on. Parents of such a baby are often advised on types of foodstuff to avoid in addition to choosing formulas with care so as not to buy that containing or contaminated with gluten.

Baby food manufacturers are aware of celiac disease and there are a good number of gluten-free baby formulas on the market that parents with babies diagnosed with the condition can buy. Such foodstuff and grains as fish, rice, corn, potatoes, legumes, seeds, nuts oils and vegetables are not only healthy but gluten-free.

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