Five-Prong Approach to Celiac Disease

Our nationally-recognized Celiac Disease Program brings together a team of expert physicians, nurses, nutritional consultants, a psychologist and education specialists dedicated to detecting and treating celiac disease in children and families.

Our goal is to attack celiac disease through improved diagnosis, treatment and awareness, using a five-pronged approach.

1) State-of-the-Art Clinical Care

The only treatment for celiac disease at this time is to remove gluten from the diet. For some patients, starting a gluten-free diet can result in improvement in as little as two weeks. Our Program will:

  • Provide comprehensive care for patients and families using the most up-to-date  methods
  • Screen children with any of the broad range of celiac disease symptoms who are seen in all specialties at Children’s National
  • Create a Celiac Registry and Database for education and research efforts

2) Meeting Psychological Needs

As maintenance of a gluten-free diet can prove to be a significant challenge, especially for adolescents and young adults, we offer psychological support as part of our clinic. Our Celiac Disease Program includes a psychologist to help children and their families adjust to the lifestyle changes associated with celiac disease. We strongly believe the mind and the body must be treated together to ensure the best outcome for our patients. Our Program:

  • Uses integrative medical techniques, such as biofeedback, to help children deal with the stress associated with their lifestyle change
  • Empowers children to feel confident when explaining their dietary needs to others
  • Treats feelings of isolation and depression resulting from their diagnosis
  • Creates support groups for children and their families
  • Establishes telemedicine options to offer psychological health services to patients nationwide

3) Education and Training of Healthcare Professionals

A crucial component of our approach is our Continuing Medical Education Program. We teach best practices for diagnosing and treating children with celiac disease to other health care professionals in the community. Our Program:

  • Increases awareness of celiac disease and its potential for misdiagnosis
  • Organizes educational seminars for all groups of healthcare providers across various medical disciplines. This includes hosting annual conferences to discuss new knowledge
  • Encourages doctors to test all family members of affected children to identify anyone who has the atypical form of the disease
  • Ensures that gastroenterology fellows at Children’s National have engagement with the Celiac Disease Program

4) Community Outreach and Advocacy

Building awareness of the disease and its symptoms among our patients and the general public will help prevent the dangerous consequences of ignorance or misdiagnosis. Our Program:

  • Visits schools to educate nurses, teachers and students about celiac disease
  • Develops outstanding educational resources for patients, families and community members to help with successful management of the gluten-free diet
  • Creates a model for improving gluten-free diet compliance that includes innovative approaches to education including nutrition, cooking and grocery shopping
  • Hosts annual community education forums that promote better understanding of celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, as well as build a robust and unified local gluten-free community

5) Research

An active clinical research program will bring us closer todeveloping new treatments for children with celiac disease.Our Program will:

  • Establish a Fellowship Program to recruit researchers, engage in clinical projects and create new approaches to diagnose, treat and support patients with celiac disease
  • Foster collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects that will increase the understanding of this complex disease and define new approaches to diagnosis and care
  • Investigate the connection between celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases