My daughter’s symptoms

Bloating, stomach aches, trouble sleeping, fatigue and slow growth. These were just a few of the symptoms of celiac disease my daughter Sydney had. But even though I was well aware of these issues and discussed them frequently with doctors, friends and family, it was five years before her condition was recognized for what it was.

This isn’t unusual. According to Beyond Celiac, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about this condition, it takes an average of 6-10 years before someone is correctly diagnosed with celiac disease.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body reacts to gluten that is eaten, damaging the small intestine so that nutrients are not properly absorbed. This condition leads to a host of serious health issues.

Most kids have stomach aches and difficulty napping at times. So, it’s easy for doctors to dismiss these symptoms. However, for Sydney, the situation was extreme. Her stomach aches and bloating were due to constant constipation, which happens when the digestive tract isn’t working properly.

Sleep issues

And missing naps was more than an occasional problem. As a mom, I was sleep deprived for most of my daughter’s first five years. Sydney rarely napped and barely got 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Most nights she woke up crying at least a couple of times. As a young toddler, Sydney wasn’t able to clearly communicate what was going on inside her body, so I had no way of knowing she was in pain due to celiac.

How do I know her sleep issues were due to celiac? Because the first day I took wheat out of Sydney’s diet, she slept through the night without waking once, and she continued to do so, unless she had an accidental wheat exposure.

Low energy

Fatigue and low energy were two more signs of celiac disease. But as a new mother, I didn’t know that Sydney’s propensity to sit on the couch and read or do puzzles was unusual. I didn’t realize most children were constantly on the go. Of course, after she was on a gluten-free diet for a short time, her energy levels skyrocketed.

Slow growth

But most concerning for me, was my daughter’s slow growth. As I watched her friends in preschool sprout up, Sydney’s growth lagged behind. When she was four years old, she was head and shoulders shorter than her classmates. I brought this worry up to my doctor, but it was dismissed.

Trusting your instincts

It was this concern that finally led me to finding a medical professional that would recognize my daughter’s symptoms and schedule an endoscopy that led to Sydney’s diagnosis. This, of course, was only the beginning of the story. Once, it was confirmed my daughter had celiac disease, I began the challenge of transitioning our family to a gluten-free lifestyle. I share the ups and downs of this story in Celiac Mom.

As a mom, I believe we have intuitive knowledge about our children. If your child has some of the following symptoms, consider having him or her tested for celiac disease:

-stomach aches



-sleep issues


-mouth sores




-weight loss

-bloating and gas

-failure to thrive

-slow growth

-lactose intolerance

More information about celiac

For more information about my daughter’s story, check out Celiac Mom.