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Pediatr Clin North Am. 1988 Feb;35(1):157-87.

Gluten-sensitive enteropathy in childhood.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Naples, Italy.


Genetic and environmental factors (breast feeding, probably viral infections) play a role in the expression of the disease. Prevalence of GSE in childhood did not substantially decrease in the last 15 years in all European countries, where GSE is still more common in infantile age and presents frequently gastrointestinal symptoms. A decrease has been reported in childhood in several United Kingdom areas and in Finland, where the clinical presentation is changing, shifting upward with age and coming closer to the adult type of the disease. The following clinical problems have been reported in the recent literature: enamel hypoplasia; monosymptomatic short stature; arthritis and other immunologic diseases; association with diabetes, atopy, Iga deficiency, and probably Down's syndrome. Delay in puberty and other peculiar problems of the disease have been described in adolescents. Tests assessing the permeability of the small intestine and the blood levels of antigliadin antibodies have recently gained success as noninvasive tools for the diagnosis of the GSE. The gluten should be withdrawn from the diet and the challenge with gluten should be performed not before 12 months of gluten-free diet with an accurate timing of the biopsy on the basis of the antigliadin and antireticulin antibodies, to avoid clinical and growth damage. Celiac children do require a permanent gluten-free (and not poor) diet. In reality, too many celiac adolescents are off-diet.

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