Celiac.com 09/13/2008 - Men who are diagnosed with celiac disease in adulthood tend to be shorter than those diagnosed and treated in childhood.

A team of Israeli researchers led by Dr. Batia Weiss and colleagues recently set out to compare the adult height of people with celiac disease who were diagnosed and treated as children, against the height of those diagnosed as adults. The researchers analyzed the height of 290 patients—83 men and 207 women. Patients were grouped according to age at diagnosis. The 113 patients of group 1 were diagnosed before age 18 years, while the 177 patients of group 2 were diagnosed after age 18 years.

The average adult height was 178.4 cm for men of group 1, and 176.3 cm for men of group 2, (p = 0.22). The height Z scores for men were 0.22 for group 1 and -0.08 for group 2 (p = 0.022). Researchers noted a significant inverse relationship between the age of the men at celiac disease diagnosis and their final adult height.

For women, average adult height was 163.0 cm for group 1 and 162.6 cm for group 2, (p = 0.68). Height Z scores were -0.05 for the women of group 1 and -0.11 for the women of group 2 (p = 0.68). Researchers noted no significant relationship between age at diagnosis and final height in women.

The exact reasons for these gender-related height differences remain unknown. They may have to do with variations in timing and duration of growth in puberty, the increased nutritional demands of adolescent men, or gender-related hormonal differences.

Regardless of the exact reasons for these results, this study is just the latest of many to drive home the importance of early detection and treatment of celiac disease for everyone.

American Journal of Gastroenterology 2008; 103:1770-1774.

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