Starship Paediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Coeliac disease is a disease where there is a permanent intestinal intolerance of gluten. Gluten is part of wheat and other cereals and is found in a lot of foods including bread and pasta. It is common, occurring in 1 in 100 people. Symptoms include diarrhoea (loose poo), poor growth or stomach bloating. A proportion of people with coeliac disease have mild or no symptoms. This diagnosis is a common reason for referral. Although there is a useful blood test which will suggest the diagnosis, an intestinal biopsy is essential to confirm the diagnosis and needs to be performed before any dietary change is commenced. This is performed by gastroscopy and is a day stay procedure. It is important that endoscopy is done as the blood test is not good enough to start treatment on a disease that is life long. The treatment is to stop eating all foods with gluten in them, like bread and pasta. Sometimes the blood test may be only mildly abnormal and in this case, a repeat test may be necessary before referral to our service for endoscopy. Most children who have confirmed coeliac disease can be followed up by their general paediatrician or general practitioner once they have adjusted to the new diet.