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  • Jefferson Adams

    Better Celiac Disease Diagnosis in Italy Drives Rise in Overall Cases

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Despite the implementation of new and more accurate disease testing tools, Italy still has a long way to go to achieve a 100% diagnosis rate. 


    Caption: Rome, Italy. Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--derrickbrutel

    Celiac.com 07/17/2019 - Improved celiac disease diagnosis is likely driving the rise in overall celiac disease cases. That's the takeaway from the latest annual report on celiac disease by the Italian Ministry of Health, which highlights a significant increase in celiac diagnoses in the first half of the decade. 

    For example, from 2012 and 2017, celiac diagnoses rose by about 10,000 new cases every year, reaching a total of 206,561 people or 0.34% of Italian residents. The report's authors insist that the rise is due to better and more diagnoses, rather, an increase in new celiac cases. There is evidence to support their position.



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    In 2017, for example, just 8,135 people were diagnosed with celiac disease approximately half of the total for 2016.  The Ministry credits the implementation of a new diagnostic protocol. This reduction in diagnoses is probably due to clearer scientific guidelines and procedures that reduce unnecessary exams, develop timely diagnostic hypotheses and limit errors, write the report's authors. 

    However, despite the implementation of new and more accurate disease testing tools, Italy still has a long way to go to achieve a 100% diagnosis rate. 

    With about 1% of the population genetically predisposed to celiac disease, even with strong improvements in celiac screening and diagnosis, an estimated 400,000 people in Italy remain un-diagnosed. Ideally, if everyone were screened, and all cases diagnosed, the number of total celiac cases should be about 1% of the total population.

    As more countries move toward active screening and diagnosis of celiac disease, look for overall diagnostic numbers and numbers of total celiac cases to rise. Eventually, these numbers should level off and begin to approach 1% of the total population.


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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