BACKGROUND: Celiac disease (CD) is recognized as one of the most common and important autoimmune gastrointestinal disorders affecting children. There is evidence that a diagnosis of CD during childhood improves health outcomes. The increasing prevalence of CD is due to increased awareness of the wide range of extraintestinal symptoms associated with CD.OBJECTIVE: To determine whether there has been a temporal increase in the diagnosis of CD associated with an increased diagnosis of children without typical gastrointestinal symptoms at the Stollery Children’s Hospital (Edmonton, Alberta).METHODS: Patients with biopsy-proven CD diagnosed at the Stollery Children’s Hospital from 1998 to 2007, were identified by retrospective chart review. Baseline and follow-up data, including demographics, symptoms, risk factors, anthropometrics and laboratory investigations, were collected.RESULTS: An increase in the frequency of diagnosis of CD was noted during the study period, particularly from January 2003 onward. Before January 2003, nine children were diagnosed with CD – all with typical symptoms. Between January 2003 and January 2007, inclusive, 149 children were diagnosed with CD, of whom 46% had absent or atypical symptoms. At follow-up, 96% of patients reported improved symptoms, including 53% of individuals who reported being asymptomatic before diagnosis.CONCLUSIONS: In the last four years of the period studied, the number of children diagnosed with CD at Stollery Children’s Hospital increased 11-fold. Screening children at risk for CD, and those with atypical presentations, contributed to the increased number of diagnoses. Identification of CD and establishment of lifelong, dietary gluten avoidance during childhood has important health benefits and should be encouraged.