New study looks at prevalence of CD in the Mediterranean Area. Photo: Jefferson Adams
Celiac.com 05/06/2011 - Recent epidemiological studies show that the prevalence of Celiac disease had been underestimated, affecting not only Europeans, but also populations of the Mediterranean countries, such as Middle East (1-4) and North Africa (5-7), where its prevalence is similar to that of Western countries.

A international team of researchers recently set out to estimate the global burden related to undiagnosed Celiac Disease in the Mediterranean Area, as computed by morbidity, mortality and crude health cost.

The team included Luigi Greco, Laura Timpone, Carmela Arcidiaco, Abkari Abdelhak, Attard Thomas, Barada Kassem, Bilbao Josè Ramon, Boudraa Ghazalia, Cullufi Paskal, Hugot Jean Pierre, Abu-Zekry Mona, Kuloglu Zarife, Roma Eleftheria, Shamir Raanan, Ter Terzic Selma, and Zrinjka Mišak.

Prevalence of celiac disease among low risk populations varies from 0.14% to 1.17% (15-17): 1%-1.3% in Turkey (18.19), 0.6%-0.96% in Iran (20-21), 0.5% in Egypt (22), 0.6% in Tunisia and Israel (23-24), <0.5% in Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait (1.10,16.25). Among high risk groups (patients with positive family history, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, thyroiditis, etc.) the prevalence of celiac disease ranges from 2.4% to 44% assessed by serological markers and biopsy (26-27).

The team discovered a celiac disease prevalence of 1%, an incidence, based on new Cases/year estimated on 1% of the live births of 1 in 7 symptomatic adults, and 1 in 5 children. Their results showed standardized mortality rate of 1.8 compared to age and sex matched population.

They found that the delay between symptoms and diagnosis was six years for adults, and two years for children.

The team found associated conditions in 10% of the total cohort (KB 30%: Turkey 2% Iran 33% , IDDM 10% (6.7-18.5%).

Sixteen percent of symptomatic patients showed celiac disease-related complications.

The team found the following non GI Symptoms among symptomatic patients: short stature 25% Anemia 40% (20-80%) Osteopenia 30% (30-50%), abnormal liver function 10% (Turkey 38%, Iran 25%).

In the Northern Africa Region and in the Middle East very high incidence of celiac disease has recently been reported both in the general population and in at risk-group. These high frequencies are due to the wide consumption of wheat and barley and to the high frequency of the DR3-DQ2 celiac disease predisposing haplotypes in these population (13,14).

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