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

Q. 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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