What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a lifelong condition in which eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley and may also be found in many other foods and products.

Celiac disease can cause serious digestive problems and prevent the child from absorbing needed nutrients from foods.


The symptoms of celiac disease can vary from child to child. Symptoms may also differ depending on the child’s age.

Common symptoms in children under age 3 include:

  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • decreased appetite
  • fatigue
  • poor weight gain

Signs and symptoms in older children may include:

  • delayed puberty
  • behavioral problems
  • low iron
  • arthritis
  • migraines
  • seizures


Celiac disease is most often diagnosed with a blood test.


The treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life. A dietitian can help you and your child learn how to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

Learn more about Pediatric Gastroenterology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

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Getting a second opinion from one of our clinicians will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your child’s health is in expert hands. Simply call 844-463-2247 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.