When your child has celiac disease, a lot can change as your child adjusts to a lifelong gluten-free diet. The experts at the Celiac Disease Program at Riley at IU Health are here to help you understand this condition and navigate your child’s path to health.
Celiac disease is a very common condition that affects one in 100 people. Most patients are unaware they even have it. Celiac disease is a permanent, genetic autoimmune condition that damages the lining of the small intestine. It is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. This damage can result in symptoms ranging from poor growth, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, and even rash or joint pain.
While some patients experience no symptoms, it’s important to address celiac disease. If left untreated, it can cause:
- chronic pain
- bone disease
What to Expect
What to Expect
If you or your child’s pediatrician suspect celiac disease may be the cause of your child’s health concerns, our pediatric gastroenterologists can screen for the disease using blood tests. A diagnosis is often confirmed using an intestinal biopsy that is completed endoscopically. With these test results, our doctors can begin the discussion of how to keep your child healthy.
Unlike many lifelong conditions, there is no medication to treat celiac disease. Following a strict gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment for celiac disease. We recognize what an impactful shift this dietary change can create in your child’s life. These changes often impact your entire family. That’s why we provide a full range of supportive care at the Celiac Disease Program, which includes:
- Registered Dietitians. Our registered dieticians specialize in working with children. They will help teach you and your child how to follow a healthy gluten-free diet and to understand food and packaging labels. They'll also teach you how to fit this new routine into your lives. Celiac disease can be diagnosed anytime from infancy to elderly age. Our dietitians help you adjust your child’s diet whenever you begin your journey.
- Social workers and psychologists. These trained professionals help you and your family adjust to the lifestyle change. They can provide you with resources that support each of you as your child transitions to a gluten-free diet. It can be challenging for children to understand a lifelong specialized diet. We have the resources in our program to support them mentally and emotionally in this process. Our team also helps coordinate care for your child between the various doctors and other providers.
Support throughout childhood
Once your child begins their individualized care plan, our team follows up to make sure the gluten-free diet is going well and to see if symptoms have disappeared. Follow-up visits also include ordering lab tests to ensure celiac-related antibodies remain low. Typically 12 to 18 months after diagnosis, most patients move to annual visits to ensure your child is growing and to answer any questions you may have along the way.
It’s important that your child understands that celiac disease is a lifelong condition and will need to continue visiting a doctor throughout their lives. It is our goal to help you begin this journey on the right foot and prepare you and your child to care for this disease successfully.
Conditions & Services
Our pediatric specialists provide patient- and family-centered care for most related conditions. The links below provide more specific information about some, but not all, of the conditions that we treat.
We offer a number of different Celiac Disease Program services. Below are some, but not all, of the services that we provide. If you have a question about a specific service that is not listed here, please contact our program.
Program Forms & Resources
Program Forms & Resources
We understand that adjusting to a celiac disease diagnosis can feel overwhelming for you and your child. Our program can provide you with several local and national resources, educational materials and support groups to help you find your new normal.
We provide multispecialty care for a number of conditions. Below are links to our related departments.