Screening children with ADHD for celiac disease

Lola O
Should all children with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) be screened for celiac disease?


There is some overlap between possible celiac disease (CeD) symptoms and those of ADHD, but this does not mean that all children with ADHD should be screened. Each child's individual situation should be assessed by the healthcare team involved in diagnosing and providing care.

When a diagnosis of ADHD is being made, the healthcare team involved should give consideration to other factors or conditions which could be playing a role in causing symptoms. One such condition could be CeD. Screening for CeD may be appropriate in some cases, such as if other symptoms of CeD (e.g. gastrointestinal distress, nutrient malabsorption, poor growth) are also present, or if there is a history of CeD in the family.

Children with undiagnosed or untreated CeD may exhibit behavioral disturbances like those that can occur in ADHD. Research has shown that children with CeD may have a higher risk of experiencing psychological issues such as behavioral problems and depression. These symptoms generally improve once a gluten-free diet is started and maintained.


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Published February 7, 2024

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Lola O'Rourke, MS, RDN. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Lola O'Rourke, MS, RDN by providing this information.

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