The study set out to determine the most common celiac symptoms faced by clinicians, and to determine how effective an active case-finding strategy might be in raising the levels of diagnosis.
Researchers led by Dr. Masoud Solaymani-Dodaran of Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK, compared differences in long-term mortality in celiac patients diagnosed as children or adults against long-term mortality rates for the general population.
The results showed that standardized mortality ratios for celiac patients more than 5 years after childhood diagnosis were 3.32, while ratios for those diagnosed as adults were 1.38.
Deaths from accidents, suicide, and violence, malignancies, and cerebrovascular diseases largely accounted for the elevated mortality risk among celiacs diagnosed as children. For those diagnosed as adults, excess mortality rates were largely due to malignant neoplasms.
Researchers said that nature of, and the increase in, mortality rates suffered by children with celiac was both largely unexpected, and surprising, when compared to those of adults.
Noting that celiacs diagnosed as adults faced only a "reassuringly small increase" in long-term mortality rates; rates that are approximately half of those of patients with Crohn's disease, for example.
They contrasted the adult rates to the markedly higher mortality rates faced by celiacs diagnosed as children, which, they said was "difficult to attribute directly to the disease itself."
They concluded that even though the increased risk of mortality for faced by celiacs diagnosed as children was small overall, the excess of deaths from accidents, suicides, and violence, were, nonetheless, a "cause for concern."
American Journal of Gastroenterology. April, 2007; 102:864-870