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Celiac Sprue

According to the National Institutes of Health, celiac sprue is an autoimmune disorder in which people with the disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. When people with celiac sprue eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by attacking the small intestine. In so doing, tiny, fingerlike protrusions, called villi, located on the lining of the small intestine, are lost.

Because nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi, a person with celiac sprue is at risk of malnourishment regardless of the quantity of food eaten. Eventually, decreased absorption of nutrients can cause vitamin deficiencies and lead to other illnesses. This is especially serious in children, who need proper nutrition to develop and grow. Celiac sprue is also known as celiac disease, nontropical sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Celiac Disease
Developed at the National Library of Medicine specifically for health care consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information targeting the lay public. Site features extensive information about celiac sprue and how to manage it.

Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign
This Web site from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders is dedicated to educating the public and health professionals about celiac disease and providing support to individuals with the illness.

Celiac Disease Foundation
The Celiac Disease Foundation provides support, information and assistance to people affected by celiac disease.

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
NFCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for celiac disease. Find the latest news, research, education and recipes to cope with celiac disease.


  • Gluten-free, hassle-free. Brown M. 2010
  • Healthier without wheat : a new understanding of wheat allergies, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten intolerance. Wangen S. 2009
  • Celiac disease: a guide to living with gluten intolerance. Bower SL. 2007
  • Gluten-free girl: how I found the food that loves me back. Ahern S. 2007
  • Great gluten-free baking : over 80 delicious cakes and bakes. Blair L. 2007
  • Celiac disease: a hidden epidemic. Green PHR. 2006
  • Best gluten-free family cookbook. Washburn D. 2005
  • Gluten-free bible. Lowell J. 2005
  • The gluten-free gourmet cooks comfort foods : more than 200 receipes for creating old favorites with new flours. Hagman B. 2004.
  • Wheat-free, gluten-free dessert cookbook. Sarros C. 2004
  • Kids with celiac disease: a family guide to raising happy, healthy, gluten-free children. Korn D. 2001

Journals and Journal Articles

  • “Celiac disease breakthrough.” Duke Medicine Health News. 16(10):5-6. 2010
  • “Celiac disease: a concern even later in life.” Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Health after 50. 21(10):3, 7. Dec. 2009
  • “Getting out the gluten.” Harvard Health Letter. 34(8):1-3. Jun. 2009.
  • “Supermarket smarts. Gluten-free foods.” Diabetes Self-Management. 24(3):83-6, 88-90, 92. LA. May-Jun. 2007.
  • Living Without, 2003–Present.
  • Gluten-Free Living, 1997-Present.


The organizations listed in Internet Resources provide support, education and advocacy.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the  Health Learning Center  at 312.926.5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateDecember 21, 2011