Myths about this chronic condition

Q: My son recently was diagnosed with celiac disease. I heard from a friend that he could possibly outgrow it. Is this true?

A: Celiac disease is a chronic condition that occurs in about one in 100 people and results in damage to the lining of the small intestines. While most people know that a person with celiac disease needs to avoid gluten, there are still several myths that parents should clear up to be as knowledgeable as possible about their child's health.

Myth: Kids can outgrow celiac disease. Celiac disease is a lifelong condition. While there is no known cure, a happy, normal life is possible with proper management.

Myth: My child's pediatrician can prescribe a medication to treat celiac disease. Unfortunately, there are no medicines that treat or cure celiac disease. The only treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet.

Myth: Celiac disease and wheat allergy are the same thing. In people with celiac disease, the lining of the small intestine is damaged when any food containing gluten—including wheat, barley and rye—are ingested. Those with a wheat allergy, on the other hand, only need to avoid wheat products.

Always consult your child's pediatrician concerning your child's health.

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Ivor Hill, MD, MB, ChB, is the founder of the Celiac Disease Center in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Nationwide Children's Hospital.