Worried about child’s growth

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q:  My 2-year-old son was diagnosed with celiac disease recently, but is low on the growth chart, will he catch up on his growth?

Answer


Many children with celiac disease have growth and weight issues upon diagnosis. Poor growth is one of the most common symptoms of celiac disease in children (1). The good news is that after starting the gluten-free diet and the intestine heals, they usually catch up on growth and weight. Keep in mind that healing and growth is very individual, but research has shown that most catch-up growth occurs within two years of starting the gluten-free diet (2) and can continue for up to four years after diagnosis (3).

To get on the right track to recovery, it is very important that your child has regular follow-ups and sees a gastroenterologist that specializes in celiac disease.  They will monitor his weight and growth. They also monitor celiac antibody levels and check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as any other issues associated with celiac disease. Learn more on how to find a celiac specialist here.

One of the most common causes for continued symptoms is exposure to gluten. Seeing a dietitian skilled in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet upon diagnosis is an important step in the process of recovery. A dietitian can help you navigate the gluten-free diet, answer any questions you might have, as well as help develop a nutritionally balanced diet for your child to optimize weight and growth. Learn more about how to find a dietitian here.

I also recommend checking out our Raising Our Celiac Kids (ROCK) website, it has a ton of information and resources for parents and kids with celiac disease. There is also a free newly diagnosed course for parents that you might find helpful. You can access the course by going to the ROCK homepage and click on the green button at the top that says “Newly Diagnosed Course.”

References:

  1. Troncone R, Kosova R. Short stature and catch-up growth in celiac disease. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Dec;51 Suppl 3:S137-8. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181f1dd66. PMID: 21088537. https://journals.lww.com/jpgn/fulltext/2010/12003/Short_Stature_and_Catch_up_Growth_in_Celiac.11.aspx
  2. Boersma B, Wynne HJ, Wit JM. A mathematical model describing catch-up growth in celiac disease. Acta Paediatr. 1994 Oct;83(10):1097-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1994.tb12994.x. PMID: 7841713. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7841713/

  1. Patwari AK, Kapur G, Satyanarayana L, Anand VK, Jain A, Gangil A, Balani B. Catch-up growth in children with late-diagnosed coeliac disease. Br J Nutr. 2005 Sep;94(3):437-42. doi: 10.1079/bjn20051479. PMID: 16176616. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16176616/

 

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. 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 Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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