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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac Disease Linked to Nearly Every Inflammatory Disorder

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Study links celiac disease to nearly every inflammatory disorder.


    Caption: Photo: CC--Brian

    Celiac.com 12/05/2017 - It's not uncommon for people with celiac disease to have other medical conditions, including liver disease, glossitis, pancreatitis, Down syndrome, and autism.

    By the same token, people with one or more of these associated disorders can be at greater risk for having or developing celiac disease. Until recently, though researchers didn't have much good data on the numbers behind those risk levels. A new database study of more than 35 million people changes that.

    The study found that, for example, people with autism have celiac disease at rates that are 20 times higher than those without autism. You read that right. People with autism are 20 times more likely to have celiac disease than people from the general population.

    Reporting on his team's findings at the World Congress of Gastroenterology 2017, lead investigator Daniel Karb, MD, a second-year resident at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, says that doctors who treat autistic patients may want to keep an eye out for celiac-like symptoms. "If you have a patient who is autistic and they have all these unusual symptoms, you might want to screen them for celiac disease," said Karb.

    Researchers have long known that people with celiac disease can present with unusual symptoms that fall outside the classic celiac symptoms of malabsorption, steatorrhea, malnutrition, abdominal pain, and cramping after eating, "but this is putting numbers to it," said Dr Karb.

    For their study, Dr. Karb and his colleagues searched the Explorys database, which aggregates electronic health record data from 26 major integrated healthcare systems in the United States. Combing through the records of 35,854,260 people in the database from 2012 to 2017, they found 83,090 celiac disease diagnoses.

    The investigators uncovered significant connections between celiac disease and 13 other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. In fact, the team found that, except for a condition called primary biliary cholangitis, "[e]very autoimmune disease [they] looked at is associated with celiac disease," Dr. Karb reported.

    The study indicates that "there is a large undiagnosed burden of celiac disease," he explained. "And a lot of it is probably because of these atypical presentations."
    As research continues, look for more connections between celiac disease and other inflammatory conditions to be more fully detailed.

    For more on the World Congress of Gastroenterology 2017.

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    The headline is misleading. In the article it states "[e]very autoimmune disease [they] looked at is associated with celiac disease." But then it doesn't say which other diseases they looked at. The list provided is but a fraction of those types of conditions. And, to equate "inflammatory disorders" and "autoimmune diseases" is also incorrect. Auto immune conditions could be said to all involve some degree of inflammation, but not all inflammatory disorders are auto immune; yet, the article seems to use the terms interchangeably.

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    The headline is misleading. In the article it states "[e]very autoimmune disease [they] looked at is associated with celiac disease." But then it doesn't say which other diseases they looked at. The list provided is but a fraction of those types of conditions. And, to equate "inflammatory disorders" and "autoimmune diseases" is also incorrect. Auto immune conditions could be said to all involve some degree of inflammation, but not all inflammatory disorders are auto immune; yet, the article seems to use the terms interchangeably.

    The article states very clearly some of the conditions the researchers looked into and, and associated with celiac disease. Here is the part you missed: "The investigators uncovered significant connections between celiac disease and 13 other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn´s disease, and ulcerative colitis. In fact, the team found that, except for a condition called primary biliary cholangitis, "[e]very autoimmune disease [they] looked at is associated with celiac disease, Dr. Karb reported." You can bet they looked at the most common inflammatory conditions. Basically all of them.

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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 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. 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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