Celiac Disease Health Center

Celiac disease is a genetic intolerance of gluten, found in grains like wheat and barley, that can cause damage to the small intestine. Celiac disease can develop at any age, but the risk for the condition is greater for those related to someone who also has it.

If you have celiac disease, eating any food with gluten in it can cause your immune system to damage parts of your small intestine that help absorb nutrients. Too much damage to these areas can lead to other illnesses in the future, such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Approximately 1 percent of the US population has celiac disease, according to National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and about 83 percent of those with the disease are undiagnosed or think they have a different illness.

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Review Date: 
June 13, 2012
Last Updated:
July 23, 2014