Siba Prosad Paul and colleagues discuss the importance of spotting coeliac disease promptly and supporting children who need to follow a gluten-free diet
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition caused by the ingestion of gluten-containing foods and affects about 1% of children and young people in the UK. Classic symptoms include diarrhoea, bloating, weight loss and abdominal pain. However, extra-intestinal manifestations, such as iron deficiency anaemia, faltering growth, delayed puberty and mouth ulcers, are increasingly being recognised. Some children have an increased risk of developing coeliac disease, such as a strong family history, certain genetic conditions and type 1 diabetes, therefore there is a need for increased awareness and early diagnosis before symptoms occur.
If coeliac disease is suspected, a child should have serological screening with anti-tissue transglutaminase titres. Diagnosis is traditionally confirmed by a small bowel biopsy while the child remains on a ‘normal’ diet that does not exclude gluten. More recently, for a selective group of children, modification of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition guidelines has enabled non-biopsy (serological) diagnosis of coeliac disease.
Children’s nurses have an important role in recognising and diagnosing coeliac disease earlier as well as offering ongoing dietary support. Enabling children to maintain a gluten-free diet is essential for general wellbeing and preventing long-term complications.
Nursing Children and Young People. 28, 1, 18-24. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.28.1.18.s28Correspondence
This article has been subject to open peer review and has been checked using antiplagiarism softwareConflict of interest
Received: 25 June 2015
Accepted: 24 September 2015
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