Health 101: Celiac Disease

True Story: "Our son started losing weight."

Ranani Family

As an internist in New Haven, Connecticut, Dana Ranani, MD, treats adults with celiac disease, but it took her a while to realize her toddler might have it. Jack's symptoms -- gas and occasional vomiting -- didn't seem unusual. But soon after he turned 2, she and her husband noticed that their once chunky son was losing weight. Their pediatrician ordered a blood test for celiac, which came back positive, and then Jack had a biopsy that confirmed the diagnosis. "We went straight from the biopsy to a store that sold gluten-free food," Dr. Ranani says.

Within three months, Jack gained 10 pounds. "Sure, his diet is restrictive, but he's going to be healthy," says Dr. Ranani. "He's now 5 and loves his gluten-free pizza -- to him, that's just what pizza tastes like."

Her top tips:

  • Seek out support: Other families who have children with celiac disease will give you the scoop about the best-tasting products to try.
  • Explain to your child that lots of people have things they can't eat -- Jack's father, Scott, is allergic to fish, for example -- so he doesn't feel so different.

Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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