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Celiac Disease in Infants – What is it and recommendations

All parents want the best for their children, that they are healthy, happy and develop normally. When our child is diagnosed with some kind of illness, even if it is not serious, our world falls apart. We have a lot of doubts, questions about how to take the reins to stabilize the situation and make a child understand that there are things he cannot eat and that it is a lifelong situation. Also, to make those closest to them understand that they have to respect and collaborate.
Here are some facts that may be useful if you are going through this moment.

What does it mean to be celiac?

Celiac disease is a food intolerance, it is a multifactorial and autoimmune disorder that occurs in genetically susceptible people. It is triggered by a well-identified environmental factor, the permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein that is present in the flour of five cereals: wheat, rye, barley, malt and oats.
The disease mainly affects the small intestine, where it progressively leads to the flattening of the intestinal mucosa.
When a child has celiac disease, gluten damages the villi in the small intestine, known as villi, whose function is to absorb nutrients from food. When these villi suffer any damage, the body cannot absorb the nutrients it needs to develop.

How do I know if my child is celiac?

Diagnostic Tests

There are several types of diagnostic tests. One of them, and the simplest, is the detection of the disease through clear symptoms, and this diagnosis is usually accompanied later by other complementary tests to categorically affirm celiac disease.

The most common symptoms in children

Decreased appetite
Some children can sometimes be picky eaters, but this problem can be worse in children with celiac disease. In addition to not wanting to eat certain foods, children with celiac disease experience discomfort due to their inability to eat gluten.
Gluten intolerance can manifest itself at any age in genetically predisposed people, who consume gluten normally.

Growth problems
Children who are far behind their peers in height and weight. Children who don’t thrive are usually much shorter or smaller than other children their age. Up to 10% of children without a cause of stunting may have celiac disease.

Swollen belly
Toddlers and toddlers with celiac disease may have a protruding “tummy” or a distended abdomen.

Other symptoms

  • Anaemia
  • Bloating and gas
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Damaged or discolored tooth enamel
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy rash (known as dermatitis herpetiformis)
  • Poor weight gain
  • Vomit

Another test is done through blood tests to study antibodies.
The antibodies may be negative and yet, in the face of a persistent suspicion of celiac disease, the specialist should continue to study the patient and perform more diagnostic tests.

Genetic markers are another of the fundamental diagnostic tests for celiac disease. Celiac disease requires a genetic predisposition to develop and there are currently two genes of the HLA system that point to a direct relationship with celiac disease.
It will help us confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease, in the event that there are more positive tests, but on its own, it cannot diagnose as it simply means that there is a risk of developing celiac disease.

Intestinal biopsy is performed when there are strong symptoms of celiac disease, a positive serology, and compatible genetics, the next step is to perform the intestinal biopsy. If the tests are negative but there is high suspicion, especially if there are also celiac relatives, an intestinal biopsy is recommended.

Finally, if a set of the above tests is positive, the child is prescribed a gluten-free diet for at least six months to check for a favorable response. While there is usually an improvement during these first few months, it can take up to two years from the start of treatment for the inflammation in the intestine to disappear completely.

Your child may test negative for celiac disease, but if you think your child really has problems with gluten, don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician about non-celiac gluten sensitivity (“gluten sensitivity”). Gluten sensitivity causes symptoms similar to celiac disease but does not cause intestinal damage. To diagnose gluten sensitivity, doctors must first rule out celiac disease and wheat allergy as possibilities. An elimination diet is then done to determine which foods (if any) cause symptoms.

A new avenue of disease research developed by Finnish researchers claims that children’s growth patterns may hold the key to early detection of celiac disease. Just before diagnosis, the growth of most children with celiac disease tested was patchy. Detection of the disease can be detected much earlier if a reliable and rigorous growth monitoring program is carried out.

These researchers give us a series of factors when it comes to evaluating and monitoring growth patterns. Not separately, but combined they allow an early diagnosis to be made with a high degree of accuracy.

– How different the height and body mass index of a child with celiac disease is compared to the population average.
– How far the child’s height is from the height that would correspond to the average of his or her age.
– Growth rate and body mass index compared to the average for children.

What are the causes?

Although it is not known what causes the disease, we can say that it has a genetic component, so it can be inherited in the family environment. All of the child’s biological relatives should also be tested for celiac disease.
A person with celiac disease has a higher chance that their children or siblings will also have the disease.

How to normalize the situation, at home the school and its environment, eating out…

When celiac disease is diagnosed, the doctor will explain which foods your child can eat and which to avoid. These changes affect your child’s family life routine and diet for a period of time, so it’s a good idea for your doctor to see a nutritionist for additional advice.
The first stage is always the most complicated, as you have to reorganize the food systems, organize cupboards, fridge, and so on so that there is no food that you cannot eat within your reach. Little by little, this will be done normally and the child will already know what he can or cannot eat. The gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment available for celiac disease, there is no medication that can neutralize gluten before it reaches the stomach of celiac children and, therefore, eliminating this substance from the diet remains the only treatment that ensures the well-being of those affected by this intolerance. For this reason, making a weekly menu according to the guidelines indicated by the specialist can be of great help.
When we go to eat out in school canteens, restaurants, hotels or airplane catering, headaches arise, especially at the beginning, since after a while this will be one more task to do when eating out of the home.

How to help your child adapt and get used to the new situation…

The first thing is to create an action plan in the company of your child so that they can understand the situation and even if they are small, give their opinion and be able to understand how they feel.
The goal is to enhance your responsibility when you are ready for it and try to ensure that the gluten-free diet does not make your daily menu boring.
It is important that this situation does not limit their social life or turn the child into a spoiled, capricious or different person from others.
At the end of the day, a celiac eats the same as others only gluten-free, so, for example, at a party or birthday, it is a good idea to have a gluten-free cake prepared and, naturally and openly, offer it to them as a substitute for the one eaten by non-celiac children.

Here’s a recipe for a gluten-free chocolate birthday cake that our kids are going to love.


  • 6-8 servings
  • 5 XL eggs
  • 250 gr. brown sugar
  • 250 gr. gluten-free all-purpose wheat flour
  • 250 gr. chocolate powder for gluten-free milk chocolate (in my case Nesquik)
  • 200 ml. lactose-free, gluten-free whipping cream
  • 150 ml. sunflower oil
  • 15 gr. (1 tablespoon) baking powder or gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • 30 gr. (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) honey
  • Gluten-free, lactose-free butter to grease the pan


  1. Prepare all the ingredients that we are going to use.
  2. We will need a 21 cm. mold greased with butter and lined with baking paper on the base and sides.
  3. Preheat oven to 175 degrees, heat up and down.
  4. In a bowl put the eggs, sugar, honey and vanilla, mix until doubled in volume. Once mixed, add the oil and beat, once mixed, add the cream and beat, beat again.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa, add it to our mixture little by little.
  6. Beat again very well and put the dough in the mold.
  7. Put in the oven for fifty-five minutes, check with a needle that it comes out dry and let it cool for fifteen minutes before unmolding.
  8. Once cool, with a long, sharp knife, cut the cake in half and set aside.
  9. We are going to make the chocolate cream, and for them we will need the following ingredients:
  10. 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 220gr. sugar, 50gr. Pure chocolate powder for confectionery, 60gr. melted butter in the microwave and 250ml. of water.
  11. Put the water in a pot, add the cornstarch and mix very well over a low heat.
  12. Add the chocolate and continue mixing over an unlit heat.
  13. Add the sugar and mix very well, there can be no lumps with an unlit heat.
  14. And finally put the melted butter and mix over an unlit heat.
  15. Once everything is mixed, turn on the heat and put it over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it starts to boil.
  16. When it starts to boil, leave it for another minute and remove it from the heat.
  17. We put our cream on the cut cake, put the top on it and spread the whole cake with our chocolate cream.
  18. Put it in the fridge for half an hour, then decorate as you like and ready to eat!


Carolina González Ramos

Edda Virtual Solution

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