Amy Campbell illuminates Karl Fenlon on the difficulty in raising a daughter with coeliac disease.

Our diagnosis story – Mina Campbell (age 7 at diagnosis)

Our daughter never enjoyed sandwiches. We all used to roll our eyes at picnics and school lunches when she would from the age of about three eat the cheese and throw away the bread! We thought she just didn’t like bread. I now think it was her body telling us.

From the age of about six I started to wonder if there was more going on. She ate bucket loads of pasta, never had issues with cake so I didn’t suspect coeliac disease. I had noticed a pattern though that pancakes caused her a problem and wondered if it was the fats.

I mentioned it with my GP one time and he assured me that she was thriving and that if it was something like coeliac disease that she likely would not be. She was about the same size as her classmates, had loads of energy, normal bowel habits. Everything was very normal except her tummy! Quite regularly her tummy would swell out a bit which I put down to the podgy tummies kids sometimes have – again I didn’t have any real cause for concern and there is no family history of allergies or coeliac disease but I was keeping an eye on it for symptoms. I thought that pasta, breakfast cereal etc. would have been triggers and as they didn’t cause any symptoms, life went on as normal.

It was her school teacher who prompted me to investigate – she took me aside one day and said she felt it would be wrong to not tell me how pronounced the protruding tummy had been the day before; it was the first time anyone outside our family had commented so I thought it warranted more action.

I took her for blood tests and they came back negative which is apparently normal and a second test is quite standard – this second test came back positive meaning the next stage of investigation (where no family history exists) happens – the biopsy. This was a very straightforward procedure and confirmed she was indeed coeliac.

For more info on the coeliac society visit