The Spectrum of Differences between Childhood and Adulthood Celiac Disease

Nutrients. 2015 Oct 22;7(10):8733-51. doi: 10.3390/nu7105426.


An old saying states that ''children are not little adults" and this certainly holds true for celiac disease, as there are many peculiar aspects regarding its epidemiology, diagnosis, clinical presentations, associated diseases, and response to treatment in pediatric compared to adult populations, to such an extent that it merits a description of its own. In fact, contrary to the past when it was thought that celiac disease was a disorder predominantly affecting childhood and characterized by a malabsorption syndrome, nowadays it is well recognized that it affects also adult and elderly people with an impressive variability of clinical presentation. In general, the clinical guidelines for diagnosis recommend starting with specific serologic testing in all suspected subjects, including those suffering from extraintestinal related conditions, and performing upper endoscopy with appropriate biopsy sampling of duodenal mucosa in case of positivity. The latter may be omitted in young patients showing high titers of anti-transglutaminase antibodies. The subsequent management of a celiac patient differs substantially depending on the age at diagnosis and should be based on the important consideration that this is a lifelong condition.

Keywords: adulthood; associated diseases; childhood; complications..

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Celiac Disease* / complications
  • Celiac Disease* / diagnosis
  • Celiac Disease* / therapy
  • Child
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Humans