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Children With IBS Could be at Risk For Celiac Disease

black children on play groundThe findings of a new study suggests that all children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should be screened for celiac disease.

Researchers from the University of Bari, Italy, assessed 782 children diagnosed with abdominal pain-related disorders: 271 had IBS, 201 had indigestion, and 311 children had functional abdominal pain.

The results were published on Tuesday in JAMA Pediatrics.

About 15 of the participants, or 1.53 percent of the population, tested positive for celiac disease. Of those, 12 had irritable bowel syndrome, two had chronic indigestion, and one suffered from stomach pain. This translates to four times higher risk than children without the condition.

“Celiac screening should be addressed only in irritable bowel syndrome children rather than all the population with abdominal pain, since in those with abdominal pain not related to irritable bowel syndrome, the risk of having celiac disease is identical to the general pediatric population,” lead researcher Dr. Ruggiero Francavilla of the interdisciplinary department of medicine in the pediatric section of the Giovanni XXIII Hospital at the University of Bari, said to WebMD News.

According to National Digestive Diseases  Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Health, “Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms.”

Untreated, it can lead to type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, dermatitis herpetiformis, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, neurological conditions and intestinal cancer.

However, once a person is diagnosed, treatment of a gluten-free diet can drastically improve symptoms and overall well-being.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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