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Tests and treatments

Diagnosing celiac disease

If your doctor suspects celiac disease based on your child’s medical history and symptoms, he or she may use the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

Blood tests

  • The first step is a simple blood test that measures antibodies specific to celiac disease. This screening is only accurate if your child is currently eating foods that contain gluten, like most breads, crackers and pasta.
  • If your child is not eating gluten, then genetic testing may be able to help determine whether or not your child has celiac disease. Your provider may discuss this option with you and whether or not it is helpful for your child’s case.

Endoscopy

  • To make a definitive diagnosis of celiac disease, your child’s doctor may recommend a procedure called endoscopy and take biopsy samples from the small intestine. A pathologist will then review these samples under a microscope to determine whether your child has celiac disease.
  • In rare cases, the blood tests and endoscopy results may not fully match and provide a clear diagnosis of celiac disease. In these cases, our expert team is skilled in determining what this may mean and how to best treat your child.

Treating celiac disease

If your child is diagnosed with celiac disease, we’ll help you learn to manage this condition. Celiac disease doesn't go away, and research now shows that no one outgrows it. Many people don't feel the effects of gluten and therefore believe that gluten isn't doing damage to their bodies. The truth is, even small amounts of gluten can damage your intestinal tract and can put you at higher risk for associated conditions, whether you feel the symptoms or not. Fortunately, almost all patients experience resolution of their symptoms, and healing of their intestinal villi, with a strict gluten-free diet. Other than the need to avoid gluten, your child can lead a normal life.

Nutrition visits with the dietitian

  • Our dietitian with expertise in celiac disease will sit down with your family for an intensive, three-hour meeting that will cover everything from how to read food labels, to how to cook gluten-free, to how to handle eating at a party.
  • Our dietitian will continue to support your family as questions arise and as your family familiarizes themselves with the diet.
  • Your intestinal tract will begin repairing itself after beginning a gluten-free diet, and you likely will feel improvement within weeks. However, some people take longer than others to respond to the diet. If after a few weeks you are not feeling better, don't give up on the diet, but consult your treatment team.

Clinic visits with your physician

  • After learning the basics of celiac disease, you’ll meet with your physician every 3-6 months for the initial year and annually thereafter.
  • At these visits, we’ll assess:
    • Celiac blood tests to ensure they are improving
    • Strict compliance to the gluten-free diet
    • Any nutritional deficiencies your child may be at risk for
    • Any psychosocial impact on your child or your family
    • Your child’s growth parameters
    • The need to screen at-risk family members

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