Celiac.com 08/21/2013 - It is becoming much more common for people with celiac disease to receive a diagnosis late in life, the implications of which are largely unknown. Although short stature is a common trait of childhood celiac disease, there has been no clear data on the height of adult celiac disease patients. 

Photo: CC--joerookeryA team of researchers recently set out to determine if men with celiac disease are shorter than their peers in the general population.

The research team included R. Sonti, B. Lebwohl, S.K. Lewis, H. Abu Daya, H. Klavan, K. Aguilar, and P.H. Green. They are affiliated with the Department of Medicine, Celiac Disease Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.

Their cross-sectional study assessed the final height of men and women diagnosed with celiac disease in adulthood.

The team looked at 585 adults at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, comparing their height against that of a control population (NHANES). The study included only patients who were over 18 years of age at diagnosis, and with available baseline height and weight data.

The team also looked for differences in demographic and physical features, mode of presentation, and concomitant illnesses in shorter versus taller celiac patients.

The 162 men with celiac disease diagnosed in adulthood were shorter than men in the general population. Overall, the men with celiac disease were 169.3±10.5 cm compared to 177.3±7.0 cm (P

Interestingly, this was not the case with women. The 423 women with celiac disease averaged 166.3±9.4 cm compared with 163.2±6.7 cm for the general population.

There were no significant differences in age at diagnosis, BMI, concomitant autoimmune illnesses (hypothyroidism, type I diabetes, dermatitis herpetiformis), or mode of presentation in shorter versus taller celiac disease patients of either sex.

Hemoglobin was associated with short stature in men with celiac disease (short: 13.9 g/dl, tall: 14.6 g/dl; P=0.01), but not in women with celiac disease (short: 12.9 g/dl, tall: 13.0 g/dl, P=0.41).

Short stature is a a common and well documented feature of childhood celiac disease. Many celiac children who suffer low BMD experience 'catch-up growth' once they adopt a gluten-free diet.

However, men with celiac disease who reach their final height before diagnosis are shorter relative to the general population. This is not true for adult women with celiac disease.

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