Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When aperson who has celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders, as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer.
(Source: Celiac Disease Facts and Figures, The University of Chicago, Celiac Disease Center.)
Prevalence of Celiac Disease
in the U.S.
• In average healthy people: 1 in 133
• In people with first-degree relatives (parent, child, sibling) who are celiac: 1 in 22
• In people with second-degree relatives (aunt, uncle, cousin) who are celiac: 1 in 39
(Source: A multi-center study on the sero-prevalence of celiac disease in the United States among both at risk and not at risk groups. Fasano et. al., Archives of Internal Medicine. February 2003.)
Labels must be read every time food are purchased. Manufacturers can change ingredients at any time. As of 2006, wheat used in products will be identified on the label. You may verify ingredients by calling or writing a food manufacturer and specifying the ingredients and the lot number of the food in question. State your needs clearly – be patient, persistent and polite.
The following ingredients should NOT be consumed. They are derived from prohibited grains:
• Wheat (durum, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt)
• Malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar (are generally made from barley, verify the source)
Possible Symptoms of
Celiac Disease can appear at any time in a person’s life. In adults, the disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth. CD is a multi-system, multi-symptom disorder.
Symptoms vary and are not always gastrointestinal (GI). GI symptoms can often mimic other bowel disorders. Infants, toddlers and young children with CD may often exhibit growth failure, vomiting, bloated abdomen, behavioral changes and failure to thrive.
CLASSIC SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE
• Abdominal cramping, intestinal gas
• Distention and bloating of the stomach
• Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both)
• Steatorrhea – fatty stools
• Anemia – unexplained, due to folic acid, B12 or iron deficiency (or all)
• Unexplained weight loss with large appetite or weight gain
• Dental enamel defects
• Osteopenia, osteoporosis
• Bone or joint pain
• Fatigue, weakness and lack of energy
• Infertility – male/female
• Mouth ulcers
• Delayed puberty
• Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
• Migraine headaches
(Source: Celiac Disease Foundation)