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Celiac disease (or celiac sprue) is a problem with digesting gluten, which is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and other grains. This problem starts when the body's immune system attacks the small intestine when gluten is eaten. The immune system is supposed to fight off viruses and other invaders, but sometimes it turns on the person's own body (autoimmune disease). Celiac disease seems to run in families.
Celiac disease causes damage to the small intestine. This makes it hard for the body to absorb vitamins and other nutrients. A child with celiac disease may not grow and gain weight as expected. You cannot prevent celiac disease. But you can stop and reverse the damage to the small intestine by keeping your child on a strict gluten-free diet.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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