Diagnosing Celiac Disease - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/10/03

Diagnosing Celiac Disease

A new study that indicates Celiac Disease is twice as common as doctors think, affecting as many as one in 133 people who seem healthy, at least that was the finding in a study of 13,000 people. Celiac Disease occurs when an ingredient in wheat products called "gluten" triggers the immune system to attack the intestine, so the patient can't absorb nutrients and ends up instead with frequent diarrhea, weight loss, and an enlarged stomach.

Researchers at the University of Maryland say they're finding other symptoms may include constipation, stomach ache, vomiting, and bloating, and they believe there are likely thousands of people with those symptoms unaware they have Celiac Disease. The good news is that it can be controlled by avoiding foods that contain gluten, and all it takes to diagnose the problem is a simple blood test.

Scientists studied over 13,000 patients, some were relatives of Celiac patients, some had Celiac symptoms, and others had no link to the disease. The highest prevalence of the disease was seen in relatives of Celiac patients. As many as one in 39 of those patients were found to have the disease.

Volunteers with symptoms had a one in 56 chance of being diagnosed with the disease and non-risk, healthy volunteers had a one in 133 prevalence. Researchers also say their study finds a link between Celiac's Disease and other conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis, and anemia. Experts say the connection likely stems from the inability to absorb vitamins and minerals in the body.

This study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland. It is published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

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