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Ask the Doc: Could my child’s symptoms be celiac disease?

Posted on February 18th, 2008 by Alison Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

questionmarkgreen1.jpgQ. My daughter (2 1/2) turned jaundiced a couple of weeks ago. For the past year and a half, she has never had a solid stool and her loose stools are foul smelling. She has always had a distended looking abdomen and did not start eating solids until she was 18 months old or she would throw up. Her hair is still thin and short like that of a one year old and her hair is very dry and lacks luster. She is very tiny. Lately, she began gagging herself and would let out huge belches, sometimes with a little vomit. Then when she turned yellow, the doctor tested her liver enzymes which were elevated. An ultrasound showed nothing amiss. Hepatitis and Mono tests were negative.

Finally, a friend told me that a friend of hers has a 5 year old who turned jaundiced and it turned out to be Celiac Disease. I have made an appointment with the gastroenterology department at St. Louis Children’s Hospital this Saturday to see if they can confirm. I have had many digestive problems and had wheat sensitivity show up in my own blood work since she was born. Now, I avoid wheat in general myself, but I have never had the endoscopy. I went ahead and took my daughter off of wheat and dairy five days ago and yesterday she had one of the first solid bowel movements I have ever seen from her. Her belly looks almost normal and she looks less jaundiced. So, I am wondering what you think as well. Thanks for your consideration!

A. Your case sounds very similar to one that I addressed several months earlier. Both you and your daughter need to be thoroughly tested for celiac disease, and that includes an intestinal biopsy. I’m glad that you made the right contact in St. Louis. I wish you and your family a lifetime of gluten-free health. Stick around, some exciting research is coming down the pipeline to make the millions of celiac sufferers achieve a normal life.

Health and happiness,
Dr. Aron

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  1. It’s unfortunate that the diagnosis had to be suggested by a friend. Your own intolerance to wheat should have been the primary clue, and most certainly the doctor should have put gluten intolerance high on the list of possibilities. Do not be deterred if your child’s blood tests come back negative, or if the EGD biopsy is negative. Your child is gluten intolerant, despite the fact that she may not eventually be “blessed” by the medical profession with an official diagnosis of celiac disease. The medical profession continues to use a 50 year old biopsy standard for diagnosis of celiac disease, and consequently many people will not be encouraged to follow the gluten free diet that prevents gluten intolerance from proceeding to the development of full blown celiac disease. Some in the medical profession. however, are awakening to the fact that there are gradations of gluten intolerance – from gluten sensitivity to guten intolerance to celiac sprue, and that one could very well be the springboard to the next level if the gluten free diet is not followed. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance can wreck havoc with your entire body, not just your digestive system, so the earlier the diagnosis, the better is your prognosis.

  2. I tested 100+ (off the chart) for my Celiac blood test. I waited 3 months to see a specials that said “Just because your blood test is positive that doesn’t mean you have Celiac.”
    …then please tell me what it means and why I did I take the blood test at all????
    He has a arranged a biopsy test for me anyway in April.( earliest I can get an appointment!…4 months from now!)
    I have been told you only have to be eating gluten the month before the biopsy. Is this true?

    My sister just got the blood test also and her number was 48.
    My nephew who is 4 and a half has always been constipated even though he eats very healthy. He tested negative for celiac in the blood test. Is there another my sister should get for him just in case he is celiac or gluten sensative?

    Thanks for your help,

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