Celiac disease is also called celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. It is a hereditary autoimmune condition in which a person has a delayed allergic reaction to gluten (a protein that causes dough to be sticky) found in cereals, such as wheat, barley, and rye. This sensitivity damages the lining of the small intestine so that it can't absorb nutrients from food.
Celiac disease affects approximately 0.5% to 1% of people in Canada. Recent research has revealed that, contrary to what was previously believed, celiac disease may be just as common in places like Africa, South America, and Asia.