Celiac disease is a condition that exists when a person’s body is unable to digest products containing gluten. In people who have the disease, the gluten will damage the lining of the intestine, rendering the lining ineffective at absorbing and digesting food that is consumed.

Celiac disease will not present itself until gluten is introduced into a person’s diet. It can, however, lie dormant in a person’s body until effectively triggered by an environmental factor. Babies and children with celiac disease can potentially suffer more, especially if they are unable to express their symptoms. It is possible, however, to diagnose both babies and children with celiac disease if symptoms are present and persist.

A noticeable symptom of celiac disease is a failure of a baby or child to thrive. If your child is eating healthy and yet shows no signs of growing at a constant rate determined by your pediatrician, you may consider having your child tested for celiac disease.

Other symptoms include vomiting or loose stools. Both can be an indication of other illnesses such as a stomach virus. A child suffering from celiac disease will not show any improvement until the gluten is removed from the diet. If your child has persistent vomiting and loose bowel movements that do not improve within a few days, celiac disease could be the possible culprit.

Abdominal pain and bloating are symptoms that may be more obvious, especially in older children who are able to express where the pain is located. A bloated belly on a baby would be easy to notice, especially if it is followed with fussiness.

Celiac disease can be an inherited disease. If you have a family history of celiac disease or intolerance for gluten, that trait can be passed onto your children. Be sure to notify your pediatrician of any family history of celiac disease.

Doctors can run blood tests to determine if your baby or child has celiac disease. The most common test given to determine if your child has celiac disease is an endoscopy, where the doctor views the digestive system internally. Alternately, a biopsy of the small bowel may be taken.

If your child is diagnosed with celiac disease, it is not a reason to panic. Many children are diagnosed with the disease and are prescribed a strict, gluten-free diet. In most cases, after gluten is removed from the diet, significant signs of improvement are seen within a few days to a few weeks.

Make sure you follow up with your child’s doctor on a regular basis so that the doctor can monitor the child’s recovery. If any of the above symptoms are present, it does not necessarily mean that your child has celiac disease, but it helps to be aware of the symptoms so you can share any concerns with your pediatrician.