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Celiac Disease Complications - Topic Overview

If celiac disease is left untreated, complications may develop. Some of these problems can occur because of the small intestine's inability to digest food and absorb nutrients properly. Other problems may develop from damage to the intestinal lining that may or may not cause noticeable symptoms.

Teens and adults often have milder symptoms, but they may still have complications. Some complications in teens and adults are different from those in children.

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Complications in children

Children who have untreated celiac disease may develop complications such as:

Complications in teens

Teens who have untreated celiac disease can have many of the same problems as those in younger children. In addition, they may have:

  • Delays in growth. Teens may be short and underweight for their age.
  • Delay of puberty. Menstrual periods may start later than normal in girls. Facial hair growth and voice changes may occur late in boys.

It is sometimes hard for teens to consistently follow a gluten-free diet. Make sure your teen knows that the more he or she doesn't follow the diet, the more likely the above complications are to develop.

Complications in adults

Adults who have celiac disease may develop complications such as:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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