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Celiac Testing On Italian Children
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I keep finding references to how in Italy screening for celiac disease is done on all school-children, which certainly wasn't the case when I was a child. Can anyone give me an actual source for this information? I have been searching the internet to no avail. Thanks!

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Hard to find the source, isn't it. People keep stating it as fact, like here:

"In Italy, where celiac disease is common, all children are screened by age 6 so that even asymptomatic disease is caught early. In addition, Italians of any age are tested for the disease as soon as they show symptoms. As a result of this vigilance, the time between when symptoms begin and the disease is diagnosed is usually only 2 to 3 weeks. In the United States, the time between the first symptoms and diagnosis averages about 10 years."

http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/welcome/conditions/celiac_disease.html

but I guess if you speak Italian and search in .co.it you might be able to come up with something.

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Yeah, that's what I've been doing, but couldn't find a reference, just a study that may have been misinterpreted to mean that. It is true that it's like "uh, you have celiac," and not "OMG you have CELIAC!!!" because it is considered common AND a big deal at the same time.

They are having more children diagnosed, but that is spoken of with great concern, meaning that the creeping in of wheat abuse is causing people to develop the disease at an earlier age.

I think I will investigate when I am back, and report back to the boards? It is TRUE that celiacs get a stipend for gluten-free goods, though: I have read the government's decree.

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In the UK diagnosed celiacs get a certain amount of gluten-free food on prescription. Though some areas are cutting it down or out. Austerity and all that.

I am really interested in the position in Italy with regard to testing children, not least because I have just had a letter. From my GI to advise that my children should not be tested unless they show symptoms (er,ever heard of asymptomatic celiac??). Any evidence would be helpful.

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CMW, I know that there is a kind of check that Italian celiacs get, and if you shop online on a gluten-free food website items will be marked as "mutuanile" when they can be claimed as benefits.

It will probably be some time before I find out, but I will keep you posted. I know that if the parent has celiac disease then the children are screened (and yes, they do talk about asymptomatic celiac).

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I've been to Italy many times and have been told by Italians there every child is screened by the age of six. I wish I had evidence other than that - all I have is from what I have been told whilst in that country. Wait a minute - I do recall reading about it. Will see whether I saved a document of some sort.

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I think I saw a thing about a research study in Italy that was going to test all children for the study. I don't know if that is still going on or not.

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I've not seen actual documentation of it, but an Italian friend of mine told me that it was routine when her kids started school in Italy. This would have been 2006 or 2007, I think. I can't think they did regular screening before the newer blood tests were created, though, which is relatively recent. And perhaps it depends on the area of the country - my friend and her family lived near Rome.

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I believe I read somewhere it was just the tTG IgA.

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There WAS a study done by the University of Rome in 2007 or 2008 (I think), and that involved a mass-screening of school-children of many if not all schools in the Roman district.

If most people heard of the "all children are tested" in/around Rome, that might explain it. It was a saliva test. But I don't know much about saliva tests myself. Anyone?

There are some schools in the area around Rome that have created educational programs to make celiac children feel like they are not "excluded" because of their needs, which seems sweet.

I'll keep searching in case anything comes up that can be of interest for the celiac community. It would indeed be interesting if this experiment became more widespread to see whether that sets some kind of example.

Thanks for humoring my interest in health politics! :D I (selfishly) wish there were more initiatives specifically directed toward educating the public about autoimmunity.

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Update: as of my current knowledge, the intensive screening on Italian schoolchildren was only done in some occasions and in some places following an academic study.

Different regions of the country probably adopted different strategies to implement the early diagnoses prescribed by law in 2005. I am waiting for more information from the national association.

What I noticed, however, is that people are generally very aware of the condition, and I mean working-class, hairdresser type of people. If they see you passing the pasta and bread, they usually say, "Oh, you have celiac disease." And places let you see the ingredients/labels of products they use (a patisserie did so for me, with the chocolate they use to coat hazelnuts). I also found a lovely restaurant where the chef modified all the dishes so that I cold have the same as everyone else, but without the ingredients I cannot have, and apparently for the it's common business to have customers with allergies et cetera. So it was actually pretty easy being home!

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