Learn more about gluten and celiac disease

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

Dr. Chad Thornhill, with GI for Kids at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, shares more about the condition and how it’s more than just severe gluten intolerance.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. In children with celiac disease, gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption, affecting their growth.

What are the signs and symptoms of celiac disease?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Poor weight gain
  • Slow growth

What is the cause?

According to Thornhill, the cause of celiac disease is unknown but it does appear to be hereditary.

Treatment for celiac disease

Following a strict gluten-free diet is key. Once a child stops eating gluten, the small intestine can begin to heal and absorb nutrients normally.

Can the whole family switch to a gluten-free diet?

Thornhill says that it can make it easier for the child if the whole family is changing the way you eat. Replacing your diet with unprocessed, whole foods like lean meats, low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits are a healthy choice.

However, a lot of gluten-containing foods have been enriched with vitamins and minerals, so make sure to getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals from other sources.

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