How is celiac disease diagnosed in children?

Celiac disease may be diagnosed in children who have any of the following symptoms:
  • failure to thrive
  • persistent diarrhea
  • chronic constipation
  • recurrent abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • iron deficiency
  • dermatitis
  • arthritis
  • chronic fatigue
Children who have any of these symptoms chronically should be screened for celiac disease with a blood test for tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG-IgA). If the test is positive, the child should then undergo a biopsy of the small intestine to confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Laura J. Wozniak, MD
Celiac disease affects approximately one in 100 children. It can appear at any age after gluten—the protein found in wheat, rye and barley—is introduced into the diet. Classic symptoms include poor weight gain, diarrhea and low red blood cell count (anemia). Some children may have constipation, bloating or no symptoms at all.
To diagnose celiac disease, the following tests may be performed:
  • Blood tests are often helpful in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
  • Endoscopy with biopsies is the gold standard for diagnosis of celiac disease.
This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.

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