Child and Parent Mental Health Problems in Pediatric Celiac Disease: A Prospective Study

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020 Sep;71(3):315-320. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002769.


Objectives: The aim of our study was to estimate the levels of mental health problems in children with celiac disease (CD) along with their parents' mental health status, to compare these levels with those of healthy controls and to investigate how these problems are affected by a gluten-free diet (GFD).

Methods: Our study constituted 50 patients with CD at diagnosis before the initiation of a GFD (age 8.6 ± 3.7 years, group A), 39 patients with CD on a GFD for at least 12 months (age 10.4 ± 3.4 years, group B) and 38 healthy controls (age 7.7 ± 3.8 years, group C), as well as their parents. One of the parents of each child completed the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) and the Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90-R) to evaluate the children's and parents' mental health problems, respectively. Twenty patients in group A were reevaluated at least 12 months after initiation of a GFD (group D).

Results: At diagnosis, CD patients had higher scores in the CBCL for internalizing problems than healthy controls (55.7 ± 10.3 vs 47.9 ± 15.4, P = 0.007) and their parents demonstrated increased severity of mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, than the parents of healthy controls (0.72 ± 0.49 vs 0.54 ± 0.58, P = 0.013).

Conclusions: CD patients at diagnosis and their parents, had more mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, than healthy controls.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Celiac Disease* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Parents
  • Prospective Studies