Search IconSearch
December 4, 2019/Health Conditions/Digestive

What Are Some Red Flags That My Child Might Have Celiac Disease?

The short answer from a gastroenterologist

Small boy with upset stomach on couch with mother

Q: Can kids have celiac disease? What are the signs of celiac disease in children?

A: Most people diagnosed with celiac disease nowadays are adults, but children can and do get it.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Celiac disease causes an autoimmune reaction in the body when someone ingests gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. As a result, their small intestine is damaged, and their body can’t properly absorb nutrients from food.

In children, one of the most common reasons to test for celiac disease is difficulty achieving the growth that is expected for their age.

Children may also experience celiac disease symptoms similar to those experienced by adults, including:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Bloating.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Skin rashes.

Of course, these can be symptoms of many different health problems, or they can be benign. So it’s important to work with a gastroenterologist to get a diagnosis.

For children with symptoms, the initial step is testing the blood for certain antibodies. If results of the test show a tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibody level that is 10 times the upper limit of what’s considered normal, select children may be able to skip the final step of diagnosis, which is an endoscopy with biopsy.

The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet. A dietitian can help children and their families with this transition.

Gastroenterologist and celiac disease specialist Alberto Rubio-Tapia, MD

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Counter top with healthy foods and meal prepping
March 11, 2024/Digestive
Living With Celiac Disease? Make Time for Self-Care

It’s more than just avoiding gluten — it’s also important to focus on your mental and emotional health

Balls of dough in a bowl.
August 30, 2022/Digestive
Celiac Disease vs. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity vs. Food Allergy

The symptoms are similar, but the conditions are very different

Woman eating noodles gluten celiac disease
June 14, 2022/Nutrition
Can You Get Celiac Disease From Eating Too Much Gluten?

Discover the connection between eating gluten and developing celiac disease

gluten free lunch with lettuce wraps
December 22, 2020/Nutrition
The Surprising Truth About Gluten-Free Food and Weight Loss

Questions and answers about eating a gluten-free diet

Person in bathroom holding stomach and hand over mouth
June 10, 2024/Digestive
Why Am I Throwing Up? And When To See a Doctor

The stomach flu, food poisoning and motion sickness can make you vomit and may result in dehydration

Assorted healthy foods spread out over a table and cutting boards
May 20, 2024/Digestive
What To Eat When You Have Diverticular Disease

Reducing inflammation is key when you’re in a flare-up, but so is having a preventive nutritional plan in place when you’re not

Colonscopy exam showing light inside colon
March 15, 2024/Digestive
How Safe Are Colonoscopies?

They might not be fun, but colonoscopies are low-risk, high-reward procedures

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims