This year, we’re shaking things up and shining a light on coeliac disease in children with the Coeliac Australia Awareness Campaign (CAAC) 2023. The campaign, which aims to spotlight the importance of increasing testing and diagnosis rates in children will commence on 3 April 2023 and culminate with a day of celebration on International Coeliac Day, 16 May 2023.
To mark International Coeliac Day, numerous activities have been lined up, including a variety of media events supported by some well-known Aussie celebs. Our Coeliac Australia ambassadors will also be busy spreading the word along with an Australia-wide light-up event that CA members, schools, and businesses can get behind to shine the brightest light!
We look forward to standing together with our global counterparts to raise awareness of coeliac disease and strive for a brighter future.
Coeliac disease in kids
Coeliac disease is a serious medical condition that commonly develops in childhood. It is estimated that approximately 1:70 Australian children have coeliac disease BUT a staggering 80% of those remain undiagnosed. Left undiagnosed, there is an increased risk of lifelong health complications.
Coeliac disease is a known ‘clinical chameleon’ and, as a result, a diagnosis of coeliac disease is commonly missed. This is particularly true of children who sometimes present with subtle signs and symptoms that mimic those of other conditions.
This year, Coeliac Australia’s Awareness Campaign is encouraging parents, care givers and families to speak to their GP about screening for coeliac disease if their child is out of sorts or experiencing common symptoms including tiredness and lethargy, mouth ulcers, gastro-intestinal symptoms, iron deficiency, poor weight gain, dental defects or recent changes in behavior or emotional state.
Sadly, undiagnosed coeliac disease in children can lead to poor health outcomes including impaired growth, delayed puberty, osteoporosis, increased risk of additional autoimmune disease and impaired school performance.
The earlier the diagnosis, the better. The diagnosis of coeliac disease is straightforward and starts with a blood test.
It's important that parents and caregivers DO NOT start their child on a gluten free diet before getting their child screened for coeliac disease. This will hinder a correct diagnosis and may delay the diagnosis of other potentially serious conditions.
Common signs and symptoms to look out for:
Diarrhoea, nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation
Weight loss, failure to thrive or stunted growth
Behavioural and emotional issues including irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleep problems
Recurrent mouth ulcers
Tiredness and lethargy
Children with a family history of coeliac disease should be screened – even without symptoms
An immediate relative of someone with coeliac disease has an increased risk of being affected
Even if your child is asymptomatic, regular screening should commence at around 4 years of age
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