At GI Care for Kids, we have the most experience with celiac disease (our doctors have over 120 years of cumulative experience in pediatric gastroenterology) of any pediatric gastroenterology service in the entire southeast.
Celiac disease is a common condition occurring in 1 out of 135 Americans. It occurs in all ethnic groups from Irish to Russian and African American. We even have patients of Vietnamese descent with celiac disease. Most people with celiac disease do not know that they have it. It is often misdiagnosed or not recognized. More and more people are being diagnosed based on family history. If you have a first degree family member with Celiac, your chances of having it are about 1 in 22.
Celiac disease causes a lot of different symptoms ranging from stomach aches to diarrhea. Patients may also have persistent vomiting, growth failure or constipation. There is an association between celiac and other disorders such as diabetes, Down syndrome, William's syndrome, and short stature.
Diagnosis is typically suggested by abnormal blood tests - all of our doctors are experts in ordering and interpreting these lab tests. Confirmation of the diagnosis is usually made by upper endoscopy, the insertion of a small tube into the stomach and intestine while your child is asleep.
Celiac disease is treated by removing all gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley) from the diet. Yes, it is a tough diet. However, more and more gluten free products are available including pizza dough, breads, pastas, and brownies. At GI Care for Kids, we have two nutritionists that can get you started on the gluten free diet. And don't forget the support group!
Dr. Jeffery Lewis and Dr. William Meyers together with a number of active parents started the first pediatric support group for Celiac disease in Georgia. We now have over 300 families in the support group! The Georgia chapter of R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) was started in 2004 one evening in our offices. The chapter helps run a gluten-free family camp one weekend in the fall and a kids only, gluten-free summer camp. Go to www.georgiarock.org for more information. The best part of the chapter is a friendly group of people, parents and kids, willing to help guide you through the adjustments necessary to live gluten-free.
Additional information can be found at these websites:
- A website est in 1995 that has tons of information and resources
- NIH sponsored link with the latest recommendations and research
- Atlanta Metro Celiacs
- Georgia Chapter of Raising Our Celiac Kids and Camp Weekaneatit
- Amazon.com link to a comprehensive guide to a gluten-free diet: Wheat-Free, Worry-Free: The Art of Happy, Healthy Gluten-Free Living
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