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Celiac disease is a chronic digestive condition where the body reacts against a protein called gluten. Gluten is found in foods such as wheat, barley and rye. The body produces an immune reaction against gluten that affects a person’s ability to digest nutrients. Read this handout to learn about how celiac disease is diagnosed in people with Down syndrome.
At the MassGeneral Hospital Down Syndrome Program, we follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We screen people with Down syndrome for celiac disease if they have any of the symptoms listed above.
If the blood test results are positive, your doctor will call you to talk about next steps. Usually, they will suggest that you have an upper endoscopy.
Almost every blood test doctors order has a chance to be what we call a “false positive.” This means that there are some people that will have their blood tests come back “positive,” but they DO NOT, in fact, have celiac disease. An intestinal biopsy will make clear which people indeed have celiac disease and which ones do not. This also makes clear which people need to have dietary treatment.
Once we have the final diagnosis, the best treatment for celiac disease is a 100% gluten free diet. Our MassGeneral Hospital Down Syndrome Program and the MassGeneral Center for Celiac Research will provide you with more information on gluten-free diets and celiac disease.
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