Recognizing celiac disease at school: the “aesthetic” symptoms of gluten intolerance

from Health editorial staff

Initiative of the Liguria Region, the Gaslini Institute of Genoa, the DINOGMI Pediatric Clinic and the Regional School Office. 120 thousand pupils answered the questionnaires of the Awareness Campaign: the doubts and the answers from pediatricians

At the final stages, the Institutional Awareness Campaign “Knowing and recognizing celiac disease at school” in progress throughout the Ligurian territory and visible on the website of the IRCSS G. Gaslini in Genoa. The goal is to inform, train and raise awareness of schools and families on less known aspects of celiac diseaseintolerance largely submerged (due to the heterogeneous symptoms difficult to recognize) and diagnosed late, which can sometimes have serious repercussions on the correct growth of children.

The “aesthetic” symptoms of celiac disease

Among the initiatives, from October 2021, theinvestigation cognitive schooling on celiac disease carried out with questionnaires on 120 thousand pupils who attend the over 800 elementary, middle and high schools (primary and secondary) in Liguria. A precious source of data that has reserved unexpected “discoveries”: among the symptoms, in fact, external manifestations on the face and body have been reported, visible to all but little known. Stains on the teeth or nails, lesions and blisters on the skin at the elbows and knees, small patches of alopecia or vitiligo: they can all be “aesthetic” symptoms of celiac disease. The difficulty in identifying the visible symptoms of celiac disease is among the numerous causes of the current diagnosis delay. Among the students, the survey found that few (29% of the students) know that celiac disease can occur from childhood. Naturally, almost all pupils (84%) link celiac disease to stomach ache, the majority (58%) to the symptom of vomiting, more than two out of three (69%) also to weight loss or short stature.

The other results of the survey

Students seem to know only some of the main foods that contain gluten: if more than two thirds (69%) of them are known to be present in pasta, less than one in three (30%) know that it is also found in bread. It is unclear among the boys how the diagnosis is made: only 30% are aware that it is the result of a specialist medical course, more than one in four (26%) think it is linked to the frequency of symptoms. They are all aware of having to go to the pediatrician in case of suspicion of celiac disease, that the gluten-free diet is the only cure (86%) and that do-it-yourself ones must be avoided (94%). 73% of the pupils know people with celiac disease and 84% of them talk about it freely with interested parties. 69% of the survey participants, then, do not consider them more fragile than the other students and 94% argue that celiacs are rarely the object of ridicule by their peers. The children know the main hygiene measures in food: 72% of the interviewees know that washing hands before eating and avoiding the use of glasses / cutlery in a promiscuous way contributes to reducing the risk of contagion of infectious diseases. They are less informed, however, on the relationship between food and health, in particular on the role of nutrition in protecting health.
These results refer to first one hundred and fifty students who completed the questionnaire between October and December 2021.

Direct line with pediatricians

The final initiative of the campaign will be held Monday 23 May in favor of parents and teachers: the pediatricians of the pediatric hospital Genoese will answer their questions live from 15.00 to 16.00. To participate write to the address specifying in the subject Awareness Campaign. The event is promoted on the initiative of the Liguria Region, the G. Gaslini Institute of Genoa, the DINOGMI Pediatric Clinic and the Liguria MIUR Regional School Office, the Ministry of Education, University and Research.

May 6, 2022 (change May 6, 2022 | 5:55 pm)

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Recognizing celiac disease at school: the “aesthetic” symptoms of gluten intolerance

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