Early detection of coeliac disease ‘crucial’

Parents urged to be vigilant on International Coeliac Day
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Early diagnosis of coeliac disease is very important for children’s lifelong health and growth, James Grima from Coeliac Association Malta said today, International Coeliac Day.

Coeliac Association Malta is one of the many associations around the world holding initiatives to raise awareness among the public on the disease and other gluten-related issues.

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease. It is caused by the immune system reacting to gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), hair loss and anaemia.

“Our association is dedicated to raising awareness about the significance of identifying coeliac disease in children,” Grima said.

“We urge parents to be vigilant and test their children for coeliac disease, especially if there is a family history. Early detection is crucial for their lifelong health and growth,” he emphasised.

It is estimated that first-degree relatives have a one in 10 chance of developing the disease themselves.

Once diagnosed, the only treatment for coeliac disease is a gluten-free diet. Once gluten is removed from the diet, one should experience an improvement in health and overall well-being.

Key facts

Here are some key facts and info about children and coeliac disease:

• Coeliac disease is the most common food-related chronic disease among children in Europe;

• Coeliac disease is one of the most common chronic diseases among children, affecting one per cent of children;

• Up to 80 per cent of cases remain undiagnosed in children;

• Despite being easy to detect and treat, diagnostic delays for coeliac disease can lead to children reaching eight years before being diagnosed;

• Achieving early diagnosis of coeliac disease is critical to ensuring good lifelong health and providing children with the ability to thrive;

• Malnutrition due to lack of proper nutrition can result in lack of growth.

For more information, recipes and help, visit https://coeliacassociationmalta.org/.

Malta Gluten & Lactose Free Week

As part of International Coeliac Day initiatives, Coeliac Association Malta, in collaboration with Veggy Malta, is this week holding the second edition of the Malta Gluten & Lactose Free Week.

A series of educational initiatives are being conducted to provide valuable information and insights, while a number of participating supermarkets are offering exclusive discounts on gluten-free and lactose-free products, making it easier for individuals with dietary restrictions to access the products they need.

The week of initiatives comes to a close on Sunday with the Health & Green Fair taking place at Kennedy Grove, Salini Park, from 10am to 6pm.

The family-friendly event will host a 100 per cent gluten-free and lactose-free food court. Complementing the event will be several market stalls showcasing a wide array of sustainable products and services by the community of Eco Market Malta.

There will also be many children’s activities, free yoga sessions and talks for those seeking to know more about food intolerances and general well-being.

Entrance will be free. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more info.

The Health & Green Fair on May 21 will host a 100 per cent gluten-free and lactose-free food court.

More children’s health-related articles are available here. For more Child articles, follow this link.

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