The Coelic Society of Ireland has launched a new campaign ‘Grow With Us’ to raise awareness for the estimated 7,300 children who have the condition but are undiagnosed.
In a statement, the Society has highlighted that it has enlisted 3,600 members of its members for sponsored walks to raise awareness of the issue.
"Through their own personal experiences many of them are only too aware of the current difficulties in not only getting diagnosed but also the delays in accessing the right supports," said Gill Breennan CEO.
"With so many children suffering unnecessarily it is important that we organise events like these to inform the public that this disease is real, can be diagnosed and that it is very manageable."
Coeliac Awareness Week
The sponsored walks will take place during Coeliac Awareness Week, which runs from 13 - 19 May this year and is focused on children coeliac sufferers with the theme ‘Grow With Us’.
Members plan to walk or run between 2km and 5km, which is the equivalent of at least 7,314km or 1km for every undiagnosed child and amounts to walking around Ireland twice.
The Coeliac Society of Ireland said that 20% of the 36,500 people in Ireland with undiagnosed coeliac disease are aged under 14, based on EU averages.
“Coeliac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that impacts growth and development in children as well as impacting on their concentration at school and their energy levels in all areas of their lives," explained Sarah Keogh, Coeliac Society in-house dietitian.
"Children can complain of abdominal pain – pain that is often put down to anxiety – as well as exhaustion."
Online Self-Assessment Tool
In April, 2017 the group launched an online self-assessment tool to help people identify the symptoms of coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease in which the affected individual reacts abnormally when gluten is ingested.
Gluten is a protein found in many foods including bread, pasta, gravy, soy sauce and beer.
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