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  • Jefferson Adams

    Is Better Testing Driving Higher Celiac Rates?

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 01/14/2015 - Recent epidemiological studies show that celiac disease rates are still underestimated, both in Europe and in Mediterranean regions. But how is better testing impacting higher celiac numbers in Europe?

    To get a clearer picture, a team of researchers recently set out to review the latest data on celiac rates and incidence in the European Union (EU) as of September 2014.



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    Photo: CC--DavidThe research team included E. Altobelli, R. Paduano, R. Petrocelli, and F. Di Orio. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences at the University of L'Aquila in L'Aquila, Italy, and with ASREM in Molise, Italy.

    They assessed the celiac disease rates and cases by conducting a search of PubMed for papers in English using the key words "celiac disease", "celiac disease plus prevalence" (limits: 1990-2014), "incidence" (limits: 1970-2014), and "frequency", plus "in Europe". They conducted additional searches using the same key words plus the name of each European country.

    The team included only prevalence data obtained by serology using anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA), EMA test, tTG test, and/or duodenal biopsy, and only studies that were retrospective and prospective, such as population-based, cross-sectional, case-control and cohort studies.

    They found that the overall undiagnosed celiac population in EU is 0.5-1%, whereas the highest estimate reported in population-based studies is approximately 1%.

    Considering data from different periods, incidence seems to range from 0.1 to 3.7/1000 live births in the child population and from 1.3 to 39/100,000/year in the adult population.

    Interestingly, though perhaps unsurprisingly, the data show clear geographical variation in both cases and rates of celiac disease in various European countries.

    They note a rising occurrence of celiac disease in recent decades in European countries, due partly to the advent of improved serological testing (tTG + EMA) and partly to increased awareness of its clinical presentation.

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    When I was sent for a blood test to diagnose celiac the guy at the lab asked which panel I was supposed to have as there were three different panels. Each one covering more and more expensive. He said the first and second panel covered most of it, so I went with that. I shudder to think that if I had only got the simple? first test, which came back negative, where I would be healthwise today. The second test was very high in Celiac markers and I started feeling better within days, although it seemed to take a year to feel fully recovered. People should get retested if they test negative but have a family history or still suspect they have celiac. And keep reminding us MSG is not gluten/does not contain gluten.

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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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