Coeliac disease is a type of malabsorption where the bowels are unable to absorb particular nutrients from food.  Coeliac disease is more common in people with Down syndrome.

In coeliac disease, the body develops an allergy to part of a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat and some other cereal grains. Eating gluten–containing foods in those with coeliac disease causes damage to the wall of the small intestine, and as a result it is not able to work effectively, and food is not properly absorbed.

Symptoms include abnormal stools (diarrhoea, frothy, foul smelling or bulky stools are typical), swollen stomach, tiredness and irritability, and poor growth. Anaemia may also result.

If coeliac disease is suspected blood tests are usually done to look for antibodies that the body makes in response to gluten. These are sometimes positive in those who do not have coeliac disease so the diagnosis needs to be confirmed with a biopsy. 

Treatment of coeliac disease is by special diet excluding gluten. This should be supervised by a dietitian.