Information for Preteens:
Body Science, About Celiac Disease
Most kids can eat most types of food. However, people with celiac disease cannot eat any foods that have gluten.
Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, semolina, smelt, and barley. In normal digestion, microscopic bumps in the lining of the small intestine, called villi, absorb nutrients from the food you eat. For someone with celiac disease, gluten causes the body to flatten and destroy the villi, and they can't absorb nutrients anymore.
Eating gluten can make someone with celiac disease very sick. The symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Anemia (not enough red blood cells)
- Bad mood
- Mouth sores
- Small appetite
- Slowed growth
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Diagnosis & Treatment
Doctors can decide if the person has celiac disease. Sometimes, the doctor needs to take a biopsy of the small intestine.
Most people with celiac disease are diagnosed by the age of one, but sometimes symptoms can start after an injury or trauma – or even just randomly. 5 to 10% of cases are genetic, meaning they run in families.
The only treatment for celiac disease is not eating foods that have gluten in them. Lots of foods – even ones you might not think of, like ketchup – have gluten. Luckily, many foods also come in gluten-free versions.
Avoiding foods with gluten can be hard at first, but kids get the hang of it quickly.
Get help from friends, doctors, and parents if you have celiac disease; and you'll be fine. If you know somebody with celiac disease, do your best to be understanding and supportive.
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high school student writer
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Gluten free recipes, GlutenFreeKitchen.org.
For More Information:
See our Celiac Disease & Teens article.
See our Celiac Disease Resources.
Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013