Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine and can cause digestive and nutritional problems in babies. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for celiac disease in infants. Find out how to properly diagnose celiac disease and how to manage the condition with a gluten-free diet. Get expert insights and support to help your baby thrive and live a healthy life.
Although it is a frequently encountered disease in our country, celiac disease, about which there is very little information, is a disease that can occur at any time in individuals of all age groups, regardless of whether they are infants, children, adults, or the elderly. Its symptoms are more common in growing children. Celiac disease is more common in infants who switch from breast milk to solid food after 1 year of age!
Parents, who have no idea what this disease is, may be worried when their child is diagnosed with celiac. In addition, there may be families who do not consider the possibility of their child having celiac disease despite the symptoms.
- What is Celiac Disease?
- Types of Celiac Disease
- What Causes Celiac Disease?
- What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Babies?
- Is There a Cure for Celiac Disease for Babies?
- What should be the nutrition of babies with celiac disease?
What is Celiac Disease?
First of all, it is necessary to learn what the disease is and why it occurs, to recognize it. What is celiac disease, Let’s look at it together.
Celiac is a type of small intestine condition.
Gluten protein, which is found in grains such as barley, wheat, oats and rye , cannot be digested in the body of some people with genetic predisposition and begins to straighten by disrupting the curved structure of the cells called ‘villi’ in the small intestine .
As a result, the absorption of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals from the villi structures is prevented. The body’s defense mechanism also begins to react to this situation.
In this way, findings resulting from body sensitivity also indicate celiac disease.
Celiac disease can also be referred to by names such as “gluten enteropathy” and ‘Celiac disease.” In short, it can be defined as the inability of the body to realize gluten tolerance or sensitivity to gluten.
Types of Celiac Disease
There are different types of celiac disease;
Classical Gluten Enteropathy
It is the type that is seen in infants 6 months and older who start complementary foods after breast milk. Since there will be an increase in gluten intake with the transition to complementary foods, celiac symptoms can be observed in 6- to 12 month-old babies in this process.
Atypical Gluten Enteropathy
Its other name is ‘non-classical celiac disease.” occurs in school-age children and adults after the age of 5;
Potential Gluten Enteropathy
People with positive blood tests but negative results in the biopsy have a high potential for celiac disease. They are not sick, but the disease may occur in a later period.
Silent Gluten Enteropathy
It is the type of celiac disease that occurs during the investigation of a different condition without showing any of its known symptoms.
What Causes Celiac Disease?
Celiac is an inherited disease. It occurs in connection with the genetic predisposition of the person.
People who carry the “homozygous DQ2‘ gene in their body are considered to be in the risk group. This gene causes the emergence of the disease with the help of environmental factors. However, your child may have been diagnosed with this diagnosis even though there is no disease in your family. The disease can occur in people with gluten-rich diets.
Except this; People with diseases such as Down syndrome, Turner Syndrome, IgA deficiency, epilepsy, sarcoidosis, infertility, osteoporosis have a risk of celiac disease and should have regular check-ups.
For this reason, if your child has a chronic disease similar to these diseases, you should have regular check-ups for celiac risk.
What Are the Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Babies?
Celiac, which causes digestive problems, sometimes shows no symptoms, while celiac symptoms in infants are very helpful in diagnosing the disease.
- Prolonged diarrhea in infants
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bloating and gas in the stomach
- Prolonged constipation
- Weight loss
- Iron deficiency anemia from disease
- Growth retardation (your baby is shorter and weaker than their peers)
- Muscle loss
- Occurrence of other diseases related to the disease (thyroid failure, B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency)
In addition to these symptoms in babies, other signs of celiac disease in children are as follows;
- Bone and joint pain
- Behavioral disorders
- Learning disability
- Deterioration of tooth structure and dental caries
- Growth arrest
- Lack of attention
- Pale skin
Sometimes only one of these symptoms can be seen, or the symptoms encountered may be a precursor to another disease.
Celiac patients; They are also more likely to develop autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, thyroid diseases, and chronic hepatitis .
Is There a Cure for Celiac Disease for Babies?
The most perplexing issue for families whose child has celiac disease is how to treat the condition. There is no cure for celiac disease, which is caused by gluten intolerance.
Only by regulating your child’s eating habits can the disease be controlled by eliminating the symptoms. The diagnosed person will need to be fed gluten-free foods for life.
For this reason, you should set a diet in which your baby can consume gluten-free foods .
With the support of your doctor, you can arrange a diet that can provide the daily nutritional values of your little one.
In order to eliminate digestive problems such as abdominal pain and bloating caused by illness in your baby, you can choose to give probiotic supplements in consultation with your doctor .
Since nutrient absorption in the body will be difficult, it is also possible to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies with vitamin supplements. Apart from this, there is no drug treatment.
What should be the nutrition of babies with celiac disease?
If your little one has been diagnosed with celiac, you will need to change and adjust some things in your life.
A careful diet list should be prepared especially for children with celiac who are just starting to recognize foods after breast milk, and foods containing gluten should be replaced with other foods that do not contain gluten and have high nutritional value.Even a small amount of gluten should not be included in celiac disease.
- Breastfeeding should be given to infants for the first 6 months.
Gluten in breast milk protects babies against celiac disease .
- Even small amounts of gluten can be harmful. Therefore, first of all, all gluten-containing foods should be removed from the baby’s nutritional list.
- Foods containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats should never be given to the child.
- Foods such as corn flour, rice flour and soy flour can be preferred over gluten grains. Bread and pastry-type foods of the child can be prepared with these foods.
- Potatoes, meat, rice, vegetables and fruits can be consumed safely.
- Due to gluten content, it should not be given to children in ready-made packaged products such as pasta and snacks such as cakes, biscuits, crackers.
Instead of these, you can make snacks suitable for your child from corn, rice or potato flour at home.
Considerations for Celiac Disease
If your child has celiac disease, you need to pay attention to some points;
- In the early days when the disease is diagnosed, your baby may be without vitamins and weak because some nutrients cannot be absorbed in his body . You can use vitamin supplements suitable for your baby, provided that you consult your doctor, in order to close this gap and to ensure that your baby can regain his body resistance.
- You should keep all your little baby’s cooking utensils separate. You will need to be careful to avoid any gluten residue on the pots, ladles, cutting boards, etc. you use while preparing your meals .
- As with cooking utensils, you should keep the plates, spoons, forks and glasses your baby eats from separately in the kitchen. Such items should belong only to your baby.
- You should take care to check the labels of all products purchased for nutritional or personal care purposes that you buy for your baby, and make sure that they are gluten-free .
- Before you start preparing food for your baby in the kitchen, you should clean your counter and wash the dishes belonging to him with a separate sponge or cloth.
Gluten intolerance can occur in the presence of even trace amounts of gluten. For this reason, in the presence of celiac disease in infants , while paying attention to the diet of your little one, you should be careful that the products you buy and their foods do not come into contact with gluten.