Celiac disease incidence rising in US

In US, Celiac disease is over four times more common today than it was 50 years ago, revealed by researchers at Mayo Clinic. The study is published in the journal Gastroenterology.

Celiac disease is an immune system reaction to gluten in the diet. Celiac disease, a chronic nutritional disturbance, usually of young children, is caused by the inability to metabolize gluten, which results in malnutrition, a distended abdomen, muscle wasting, and the passage of stools having a high fat content. The disorder can be controlled by a special diet that emphasizes the elimination of all foods containing gluten.

“Celiac disease has become much more common in the last 50 years, and we don’t know why,” says Joseph Murray, M.D., the Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist who led the study. “It now affects about one in a hundred people. We also have shown that undiagnosed or ‘silent’ celiac disease may have a significant impact on survival. The increasing prevalence, combined with the mortality impact, suggests celiac disease could be a significant public health issue.”

The Mayo Clinic research team tested blood samples gathered at Warren Air Force Base (AFB) in Wyoming between 1948 and 1954 for the antibody that people with celiac disease produce in reaction to gluten. They compared those blood test results with those from two recently collected sets from Olmsted County, Minn. One matched the ages of those from the 1948 testing at the time of the blood draw, and the other matched their birth years. Researchers found that young people today are 4.5 times more likely to have celiac disease than young people were in the 1950s, while those whose birth years matched the Warren AFB participants were four times more likely to have celiac disease.

The study also found that subjects who did not know they had celiac disease were nearly four times more likely than celiac-free subjects to have died during the 45 years of follow-up.

The study findings highlight the need for increased awareness of celiac disease, both among physicians and patients.

Source: Mayo Clinic, USA



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