Children’s National is helping to improve the way pediatric celiac disease is diagnosed and treated. Working in partnership with concerned members of our community, our Celiac Disease Program brings together a team of expert physicians, nurses, nutritional consultants and professional counselors dedicated to developing a national model for detecting and treating celiac disease in children.
Our goal is to attack celiac disease aggressively through improved diagnosis, treatment and awareness, using a five-pronged approach.
Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. About one in 100 children has celiac disease, making it one of the most common
conditions in children.
People who have celiac disease are permanently intolerant to gluten, a protein found in all forms of wheat, rye, and barley. When ingested by affected individuals, an autoimmune reaction causes inflammation and damage to the nutrient-absorbing villi in the small intestine. If left unchecked, damage can occur in nearly every system in the body: skeletal, reproductive, neurological, and dermatologic to name a few.
Although the common belief is that gluten is found only in foods, the protein is actually used in many everyday products including medications, vitamins, adhesives used for stamps and envelopes and cosmetic products such as lotion, shampoo and lipstick.
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. If you are concerned that your child may have celiac disease, a diagnosis should always be confirmed with the help of an experienced physician. Our specialists have the expertise to make the diagnosis and help families manage the disease.
To diagnose celiac, physicians usually test blood to measure for higher than normal levels of certain autoantibodies in their blood. Fortunately, the disease is well managed with a change in diet. Because treatment for celiac is nutritional, the program emphasizes patient education, and we offer a range of patient and family-centered programs about living with and managing celiac disease.
Our team includes experts in gastroenterology (digestive disorders), laboratory medicine (testing and monitoring), and pathology (disease treatment evaluation). Counseling support is available through the Division of Psychiatry and the social work team at Children’s National.
For more information on celiac disease, sign up to receive our Celiac Disease Digest, which provides helpful information for patients with the autoimmune disorder.