Schooling your celiac kids

Courtesy Ellen Baynes – The Celiac Scene via Facebook

We hope that the following information will provide you with the tools you need to start the conversation on how your child’s needs can be accommodated and hopefully form the foundation of a solid collaboration between your child, school staff and other parents whose children may have celiac disease or other sensitivities. Your child may be the first celiac student that your school may have encountered but she certainly won’t be the last!

The Canadian Celiac Association is dedicated to supporting you and many undertake to support their youngest members with kids groups, special events, activities and tailor-made information packages. Others create forums so mom’s can share information one another or arrange play dates. A Chapter or Satellite is waiting to welcome you!

*Thanks to Shirley, Volunteer from Victoria Chapter of the CCA for her invaluable assistance in compiling this information.

look to Danna Corn who founded ROCK, Raising our Celiac Kids at—Tips-for-Making-the-Gluten-Free-Grade-by-Danna-Korn/Page1.html

FOR THE CHILD: to purchase stickers for your child’s tupperware, frozen snacks that can kept in the school’s fridge. (Scroll down)
Easy to read book written especially for children who have celiac disease. It contains information about Celiac Disease, questions and answers, recipes and snacks, games .

About the disease:

Sample Letters from the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (

Letter to Teacher:

School Trip Letter:

Understanding Your Student:

From We Care Schär:

Back to school with celiac disease

Courtesy National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

girl eating a peach

photo courtesy Bruce Tuten

Getting back into an everyday routine, purchasing school supplies, and even convincing your little one that beach days are over can be a daunting task. For parents of children with celiac disease, the thrill of back-to-school can be more challenging.

According to Alice Bast, founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and an expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free lifestyle, “There are thousands of parents of school age children who have to learn to deal with their child’s celiac disease – an autoimmune digestive disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten – and make sure that they understand the implications of their medical condition and how they can manage this easily in a school environment.”

Every parent wants their child to make healthy food choices, but what if a cracker or a single bite of a chocolate chip cookie could make a child violently ill? The gluten-free diet is challenging at any age, but it can be especially hard on children. Food is social, and gluten-free kids often miss out on the moments their peers take for granted, such as eating a cupcake or pizza to celebrate a classmate’s birthday and trading lunches with a friend in the cafeteria. “It’s more than just food,” Bast said. “The gluten-free diet really is a lifestyle, so it can affect children’s confidence and their emotional and social health, too.”

Children with celiac disease must learn early about the health implications of their condition, and parents need to have an open conversation with them. They should reiterate that it is okay for their child to say “No, thank you.”

The number one goal for parents and school staff is to keep children gluten-free in school cafeterias, after-school activities and classroom parties. Bast recommends that parents meet with the staff prior to the school year starting so they can have a conversation about their child’s medical condition and the foods and items that must be avoided.

Fortunately, there are many gluten-free alternatives that can supplement kids’ favorite foods, and they are growing in popularity, such as gluten-free cookies, cupcakes, pasta, pretzels, crackers and gummy snacks. Some schools have even introduced gluten-free pizza for lunch.  School arts and crafts also pose a concern for gluten-free children. Many non-food items can contain gluten, including some types of clay, paints and glues. How do parents handle this? One idea from NFCA is for parents to get a list of supplies needed from the school and then provide safe alternatives to keep in the child’s art supply box. If crafts involve pasta, parents can supply the school with gluten-free pasta in a variety of shapes and sizes, giving careful instruction to keep these items separate from the gluten-containing supplies.

Education is key. Parents may also opt to discuss celiac disease with the students in their child’s classroom so they can learn about the condition and understand why a child with celiac disease cannot eat cupcakes or share their lunch. Most importantly, parents can emphasize that there are many things the child still can eat, and that he or she likes making friends and playing together just like everyone else. Children want to feel accepted and not different, so it is important for a parent to explain in simple terms that encourage kids to be welcoming rather than leave the child out.

“We usually tell children that everyone has a health limitation because nobody’s body is perfect,” said Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin, PhD, Training Director at Bay Area Family Therapy & Training Associates, Cupertino, Calif. “Some people wear glasses, others have a body that can’t run very well, and many have foods they don’t tolerate so well…Children with celiac disease are lucky to know about the needs of their body so young, because many people find out when they are adults and have complications.”

For additional coping strategies, NFCA recommends that parents read Gluten-Free Friends: An Activity Book for Kids, by Nancy Patin Falini, MA, RD, LDN, Kids with Celiac Disease: A Family Guide to Raising, Happy, Healthy Gluten-Free Children, by Danna Korn, and Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? by Katie Chalmers. The good news is that there is a greater understanding of celiac disease among school staff and a myriad of resources available at The foundation’s online hub also has a dedicated section called Kids Central where parents can find articles, advice and gluten-free snack suggestions.

Northern Albertan children at higher risk for celiac disease

Diana-MagerAccording to University of Alberta assistant professor Diana Mager,  northern Alberta children with celiac disease may be at a higher risk for poor bone health. Mager’s study looked at 43 celiac children between the ages of three and 17.

Mager,  asserts that the lack of sun in the winter along with a lack of essential vitamins increases the risk of low bone mineral density during childhood.  Vitamin D from the sun’s rays is essential to bone growth and overall health.

Mager recommends that patients eat a diet that includes a lot of vitamin D such as milk, fish and fortified dairy products. Weight bearing exercises are also helpful for bone health.

Read more in Fort McMurray Today

Season of birth and celiac disease in children

Courtesy Digestive Disease Week

Celiac disease is more common among Massachusetts children born in the spring or summer, and this higher incidence could be related to the intersection of key seasonal and environmental factors, according to researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown, but potential triggers include the timing of infants’ introduction to gluten and of viral infections during the first year of life. Researchers hypothesized that the season of a child’s birth could be an important detail since babies are typically given a food with gluten around six months of age, which for those born in spring or summer would coincide with the start of the winter cold season.

The researchers studied 382 patients with biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, whose age at diagnosis ranged from 11 months to 19 years. Among older children (ages 15 to 19), there was virtually no difference in birth season (categorized as light, meaning March to August, or dark, defining September to February). But there was an appreciable difference in the 317 children younger than 15 years old — as a group, 57 percent had been born in a light season, whereas 43 percent were born during a dark season.

Pornthep (Tui) Tanpowpong, MD, MPH

Given that celiac disease is one of the more prevalent autoimmune disorders in children, the study could have important implications for families and pediatricians. Lead researcher Pornthep Tanpowpong, MD, MPH, a clinical and research fellow, said the findings might suggest a rethinking of when some children first begin eating cereals and other foods that contain gluten. Other potential causative season-of-birth factors, such as sunlight exposure and vitamin D status, also merit additional investigation, he noted.

“If you’re born in the spring or the summer, it might not be appropriate to introduce gluten at the same point as someone born in the fall or winter,” said Dr. Tanpowpong. “Although we need to further develop and test our hypothesis, we think it provides a helpful clue for ongoing efforts to prevent celiac disease.”

More info on Digestive Disease Week

Celiac children have increase risk for emotional and behavioral problems

I’ve come across more than my usual share of interesting scholarly research articles on Celiac disease.  The most recent involves the apparent link between celiac disease  in children and and increase risk for emotional and behavioral problems

Here’s the abstract:

Children with chronic illnesses are known to have increased risks for emotional and behavioral problems. In the present study, children and adolescent suffering from celiac disease (CD) were compared with healthy controls to assess differences in the psychological profile. Methods: A total of 100 well-treated and compliant CD patients (65 females/35 males; age mean+/-SD: 10.38+/-2.71) were compared to 100 normal controls (58 females/42 males; age mean+/-SD: 11.47+/-2.61). Emotional and behavioral problems were assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC). Results: Subjects with CD self-reported an increased rate of anxiety and depression symptoms and showed higher scores in “harm avoidance” and “somatic complaints”, in the CBCL parent-report questionnaire, as compared to healthy control subjects. Furthermore, gender differences could be observed in the group of CD patients, with males displaying significantly higher CBCL externalizing scores, in social, thought and attention problems, as compared to female, who in turns showed more prominent internalizing symptoms such as depression. Conclusions: The increased rate of emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescent with CD emphasizes the importance of an early detection of mental health problems in these children.

Visit for the full article.

Vitamins needed to help celiacs stave off bone disease

By Assistant professor Diana Mager
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science
University of Alberta

Children with celiac disease need to include certain must-have vitamins in their diets to stave off weak bones and osteoporosis, say researchers at the University of Alberta.

A study of 43 children and teens from three to 18 years of age diagnosed with celiac disease showed that they also tended to have low bone density, likely due to poor intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals. That means they should be getting more of bone-boosting vitamins such as K and D in their diets, says Diana Mager, a professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science at the U of A, and one of the researchers on the project.

“Children with celiac disease are at risk for poor bone health, but by adding vitamins K and D to their diets, it can help reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis,” Mager said.

The study revealed that the children were getting less than 50 per cent of their recommended dietary intake of Vitamin K, and that they also suffered from low levels of Vitamin D, which can be raised through increased exposure to sunlight and by eating fortified dairy products.

Mager also recommends that children with celiac disease include physical activity in their daily routines to build their bone strength and boost their Vitamin D intake by exercising outside.

“Enjoying activities such as walking and running outdoors when there is more sunshine is a great way to contribute to healthy bones,” Mager said.