Diagnosis and management of coeliac disease in children

Postgrad Med J. 2011 Jan;87(1023):19-25. doi: 10.1136/pgmj.2008.075838. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Coeliac disease (CD) remains under diagnosed with only 10-20% of patients identified. Genes encoding HLA DQ2 or DQ8 are found in the vast majority of those with CD and testing for their presence can be useful to rule out the possibility CD. CD is more common in certain ethnic groups including those of North Indian origin. The classical presentation tends to occur in younger children, while atypical presentations occur at an older age. The number of children being diagnosed with CD is increasing; this may be due to greater recognition of the more atypical presentations, improved serologic tests, and the screening of asymptomatic groups at increased risk, but may also be due to an overall increased prevalence. Although serologic testing has become more reliable, there still remain significant problems around testing, particularly in those <18 months of age. All children should undergo a duodenal biopsy on a gluten containing diet in order to diagnose CD before recommending a gluten-free diet (GFD). A GFD should be offered to all children diagnosed with CD even when perceived as asymptomatic, as there is significant morbidity associated with CD later in life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Biopsy
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis*
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology
  • Celiac Disease / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Duodenum / pathology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Risk Factors