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Coeliac disease in children

coeliac; celiac; gluten; ;

In people with coeliac disease, gluten (a protein in many cereal foods such as wheat, rye, barley and oats) causes damage to the lining of the small intestine (bowel). This damage affects the digestion of foods and nutrients. Nutrients are not absorbed properly, causing a range of health problems.

If you think your child or you might have coeliac disease it is important not to start a gluten free diet until the diagnosis is made as it may make it harder to work out what is wrong. It is important to know for sure if you or your child have coeliac disease as the diet needs to be lifelong.

  • As long as people with coeliac disease do not eat foods containing gluten they feel quite normal and healthy. Coeliac disease continues for the whole life. 
  • Coeliac disease happens in about one out of every 100 people in Australia but most people who have it do not know that they do. It can be inherited, that is it can run in families.
  • Coeliac disease can start at any time after cereals containing gluten are given to a baby, often between 9 months and 2 years. (Rice cereal does not contain gluten.) It can also be found in older children or adults.

More information

To find out more about coeliac disease have a look at:

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network 

Raising Children Network 

Better Health Channel (Victoria)


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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