After our son Cesar Michael was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in August of 2010, my wife and I have learned so much about it. I have received many e-mails of people inquiring basic questions on Celiac Disease.
Based on our experience as parents of a Celiac Disease child, I would like to share what we have learned about Celiac Disease. We hope that it will help you understand a little bit more about helping your child or children in coping with this autoimmune disease that if left unattended it could do severe damage to someone.
Are more Children are being diagnosed with Celiac Disease (CD)?
Because of the increase of Celiac Disease awareness and statistical studies shows that 1 out of 133 are suffering this illness, more primary doctors are considering the diagnosis in children.
How do doctors go about making a Celiac Disease diagnosis?
Doctors usually prescribe a simple blood test. If a child has a positive celiac blood test then he or she is referred to a biopsy. The biopsy will confirm if a child has Celiac Disease. If you believe that your child still has digestive problems even though the blood test has been negative for Celiac Disease, it is very important to talk to your physician. A blood test could fail in determining the disease. This is what happened to our son Cesar Michael. His pediatrician had requested a blood test to screen for Celiac Disease which had come back negative. Unfortunately, we did not know what to do. Ultimately, his GI doctor requested to do an endoscopy in the intestines and get a biopsy. Doctor Treskova was shocked to find out that his villi, the finger-like projection on the lining of the small intestine, were completely damaged. The biopsy definitely confirmed that our son Cesar Michael had Celiac Disease.
What is the treatment for Celiac Disease?
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment to Celiac Disease. This therapy must take place immediately after a person has been diagnosed with CD. A gluten-free diet is a diet that eliminates all ingredients containing the protein gluten found in Wheat, Barley, Rye and Malt. It might also exclude Oats. Also, most celiac patients are lactose intolerant. Therefore they need to avoid regular milk.
In our personal experience, children that need to maintain a gluten-free diet adapt very well to the dietary restrictions. My daughter Cecilia Marie maintains a gluten-free diet as well because she was diagnosed with Wheat Allergy (WA). Our children feel comfortable telling their friends about their dietary restrictions. They also educate their friends in telling them why they need to maintain a gluten-free diet.
Are current blood tests reliable to diagnose Celiac Disease?
According to researchers, bloods tests for celiac disease are very reliable but sometimes someone with celiac disease can have a negative blood test result but if you still suspect of having celiac disease, a biopsy will definitely confirm whether it is positive or negative.
What are the known genes associated with Celiac Disease?
Genetically speaking, the HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) has determined that the genes associated with celiac disease are the (DQ2 and DQ8). These genes are found in about 30% of the general population.
What kind of risks a child with Celiac Disease faces in maintaining a gluten-free diet?
According to our experience with our son, at the time he was diagnosed with CD, he had a mild anemia (iron deficiency) and vitamin deficient specially vitamins A, D, E and K). His main pediatrician prescribed the appropriate iron and vitamin supplements to correct the problem. It is important to take the adequate intake vitamin recommended by the physician to avoid any lack of nutritional deficiencies.
Another problem that children with CD face is that celiac disease can lead to Osteoporosis especially if the problem has been unattended for a long time. My son’s physician prescribed a “Bone Density Scan Test” to determine if our son had any bone loss. Unfortunately he did. Bone loss happens because the digestive system is not digesting the regular nutrients in the body. In our son’s case, celiac disease was already affecting him for an unknown period of time. There are many ways in reversing Osteoporosis. Cesar Michael has been able to reverse Osteoporosis with exercising.
Once children are fully recovered from any deficiencies and main a healthy gluten-free diet, they could have a normal life.
Can a child recover soon from the villi damage?
There is no specific time of how long it takes for the villi to be completely healed. However the villi do heal. The intestine is an organ and renews itself every three days. Therefore once the villi are healed the patient needs to maintain a gluten-free diet to keep healthy.
Is Celiac Disease a food allergy?
No, CD is not a food allergy. It is an autoimmune disorder which means that if the digestive system finds the protein gluten, the body attacks itself. The immune system will attack the internal tissues of the small intestines called “Villi.”
Can Celiac Disease be cured?
There is no cure at this time. This is a lifetime disease. The only therapy is to maintain a gluten-free diet which means to avoid foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, malts and oats.
I hope this article will help you learn a little bit more about what Celiac Disease is about.