Signs & symptoms of celiac disease in babies

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US National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse describes coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition, as a condition affecting the small intestine in which a person cannot digest foods containing gluten. Gluten is the protein found in foods such as wheat, rye and barley.

In addition to breads and pastries, gluten-containing products include salad dressings, soups, processed foods, medications, vitamins and lip balm, so people with coeliac disease have to be cautious about anything that comes in contact with their mouths. Because this condition causes malabsorption, mothers must be able to identify the signs and symptoms of coeliac disease in babies.

Babies susceptible to coeliac disease

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, not a gluten allergy, and babies with a family history of coeliac disease have a genetic predisposition to the disease and should be monitored for signs and symptoms. According to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies; Children's Hospital, in addition to a genetic predisposition, babies with Down syndrome, Turner syndrome and anaemia have a greater risk of developing coeliac disease. Babies who are bottle fed are more likely to suffer from coeliac disease because many formulas contain wheat. Breast-fed babies often display signs and symptoms of coeliac disease when they begin eating solid foods.


One of the primary signs and symptoms of coeliac disease in babies is chronic diarrhoea. This occurs because they are unable to absorb foods containing grains. To monitor whether or not babies have coeliac disease, parents should see how much stool they produce after a feeding. If babies experience diarrhoea, parents should talk to doctors about changing the type of baby formula they are feeding their infant. According to US National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, stool may appear pale or fatty and emit a foul odour.

Abdominal pain and bloating

Signs and symptoms of coeliac disease in babies include a multitude of abdominal problems, according to US National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Infants may experience abdominal pain, bloating and vomiting after consuming formula and baby foods containing gluten products.

Growth and weight

Coeliac disease in babies can affect their growth. Symptoms include thinning bones, anaemia, weight loss and stunted growth. Babies' growth is affected because they cannot absorb nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. Parents should seek medical attention if they notice that their babies are losing weight and are weak or lethargic.


Irritation is a nonfood-related symptom of coeliac disease in babies. Because they are not getting the nutrients they need or are experiencing pain, babies are constantly irritated and cry because of their physical condition. Parents concerned about the health of their babies need to bring them to their doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and receive needed treatment.