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Celiac disease is a genetic (inherited) digestive disorder of the small intestine manifested by
interference with absorption of nutrients from food. Other names for celiac
disease are sprue, nontropical
sprue, and celiac sprue. Individuals who have
celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten,
which is present in wheat, rye, and barley. When people with celiac disease
eat foods containing gluten, their immune system reacts, resulting in damage
to the lining of the small intestine. Celiac disease can be diagnosed with
blood tests and by examining a small piece of the intestine from a biopsy.
The May 18, 2005, issue of JAMA includes an
article reporting that infants who had initial exposure to foods containing
wheat, barley, or rye either in the first 3 months of life or after 6 months
were at increased risk for celiac disease. This Patient Page is adapted from
one originally published in the March 20, 2002, issue of JAMA.
Stevens LM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Celiac Disease. JAMA. 2005;293(19):2432. doi:10.1001/jama.293.19.2432
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