This will be a short guide for new moms to help better understand what is celiac disease in toddlers, and to identify the main signs of celiac disease to better help prevent further complications from its main offender, gluten.
It is very challenging to recognize signs of gluten intolerance in toddlers because it is simply too early for many behavioural and developmental “clues” seen in slightly older children such as poor memory, difficulty concentrating, ADHD and autism to be apparent. That is why the first step for a new mom in identifying signs of celiac disease is to analyze the family health history, including her own. Celiac disease has a medically confirmed genetic component, and it has been estimated that 1 in 22 people may inherit the disease among those who have an immediate family member (child, sibling or parent) who is a celiac. Furthermore, the 2007 study published in Digestion revealed that celiac disease is 24 to 48 times more prevalent in the siblings of diagnosed celiac individuals than in the general population. Children who should be tested for celiac disease also have an increased risk if they have relatives with Down syndrome, diabetes, Turner Syndrome, and Autoimmune syndrome.
When looking for signs of celiac disease in toddlers, it is important to also consider and differentiate it from wheat gluten allergy, since it is more common in kids vs adults and should not be ignored due to its potentially lethal consequences. Generally, gluten allergy symptoms in children include hives or itchy gluten allergy rash on skin, nausea, nasal congestion, and anaphylaxis or a severe rapid allergic reaction that can be fatal.
Signs of celiac disease in toddlers may include diarrhea, poor appetite, a bloated tummy, weight loss and growing in height slower than other babies. The toddler can also have skin problems such as dry skin and rashes, sometimes blisters (skin lesions), tooth problems (weakened bones) and bone thinning (due to vitamin malabsorption). Less evident behavioral signs are frequent crying and crankiness.
The mother should also be aware, that her diet is crucial during conception, during the actual pregnancy and breastfeeding of her toddler. A mother’s breast milk should contain a multitude of vitamins and nutrients in order to provide the child with an inherently good diet, and the best possible eating habits. Some of these vitamins include the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as B vitamins (B1, B2 , B3 , B6), C, Folic Acid, Calcium and Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, and Omega-3.
If the mother or her toddler already have signs of celiac disease, the best prevention is to avoid gluten altogether. Some foods to avoid with celiac disease are wheat, barley, rye flours, cross- contaminated oats (mixed with gluten), beer, bouillons, breading, cake flour, couscous, French fries, imitation crab, processed, meats, pasta, soy sauce, soft cheeses, yogurt with wheat starch, and many more. Nowadays options are available for moms to purchase gluten- free products to keep the gluten intolerance, or more importantly, signs of celiac disease, under control. There is gluten free bread and cereal, or you can visit a health food store. Some specialty stores on the internet also have pizzas and breads without gluten. A mother can also find gluten- free day camps, and summer camps for her children, all one has to do is input some well – invested time into researching the best for her children, as well as for herself.