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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    People with Adult Celiac Disease are Shorter than their Peers

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      A new study shows that adults with celiac disease are shorter than their healthy counterparts.


    Caption: Adults with celiac disease are shorter than their healthy peers. Photo: CC--Ian D. Keating

    Celiac.com 11/14/2016 - Diagnosis of celiac disease is often delayed, sometimes into adulthood, but researchers don't have much good data on the possible consequences of such a delay.

    There's plenty of data to show that pediatric patients with celiac disease are often short in stature. However, there's very little data on physical features, including height, of adult patients with celiac disease. A team of researchers recently set out to evaluate whether patients suffering from celiac disease are shorter in comparison with the general population without celiac disease. The research team included Abbas Esmaeilzadeh, Azita Ganji, Ladan Goshayeshi, Kamran Ghafarzadegan, Mehdi Afzal Aghayee, Homan Mosanen Mozafari, Hassan Saadatniya, Abdolrasol Hayatbakhsh, and Vahid Ghavami Ghanbarabadi.

    The team also assessed likely correlations between demographic and physical features, main complains, serum anti tTG level, and intestinal pathology damage between short versus tall stature celiac patients. They conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study on 219 adult patients diagnosed with celiac disease in the Celiac Disease Center, between June 2008 and June 2014 in Mashhad, Iran.

    All patients were between 18 and 60 years of age. The team compared the height of the study subjects against a group of 657 age- and sex-matched control cases from the healthy population. They then then compared the likely influencing factors on height such as intestinal pathology, serum level of anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG), serum vitamin D, and hemoglobin level at the time of diagnosis in short versus tall stature patients with celiac disease.

    All 65 male and 154 female celiac patients were shorter than their counterparts in the general population "(males: 168.5±8.6 to 171.3±7.2 cm, p less than 0.01 and females: 154.8±10.58 to 157.8±7.2 cm, p less than 0.01). Spearman linear correlation showed height in patient with celiac disease was correlated with serum hemoglobin (p less than 0.001, r=0.285) and bone mineral density (p less than 0.001) and not with serum vitamin D levels (p =0.024, r=0.237), but was not correlated with anti-tTG serum levels (p=0.97)."

    Celiac patients with upper and lower quartile of height in men and women had no significant difference in the anti-tTG level and degree of duodenal pathology (Marsh grade). Shorter patients more commonly experienced anemia than taller patients.

    Adults with celiac disease are definitely shorter compared with healthy adults. There is a direct correlation between height and anemia and bone mineral density. This study really drives home the importance of early detection and treatment of celiac disease.

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    Diagnosed with celiac disease at 21 years old. I am a female 5'8â€. My mom is 5´ 6" dad is 5´9". Don´t seem to fit your theory. I never eat out because of cross contamination. Keep researching. Hoping for a cure.

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    Diagnosed with celiac disease at 21 years old. I am a female 5'8â€. My mom is 5´ 6" dad is 5´9". Don´t seem to fit your theory. I never eat out because of cross contamination. Keep researching. Hoping for a cure.

    The article says that most, but by no means all, people with adult celiac disease are shorter than their peers. That means there will can still be tall people with adult celiac disease, just that they are the exception that proves the rule.

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    Diagnosed with celiac disease at 31 years old. I´m a 5´8" female. My mom is 5´5" dad with celiac disease was 6" and my sister who doesn´t have celiac disease is 5´5 1/2" and my niece with celiac disease is on target with her I don´t seem to fit the theory either.

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    Diagnosed at age 70. Had food problems at age 3, slow growth until age 14. Often anemic. now 5´4". Mother 5´6" Sister 5´8" Brothers over 6´ Father 5´9". Had Lyme Disease. Endometriosis. Osteoporosis. Chemical sensitivities and allergies. Unnecessary sinus operation. Lack of stamina. Was told "it was all in my head" when I went to physicians. Have BS Public Health, MA Molecular Genetics but was too tired to go on for PhD. Now 80. Took about 8 years on gluten-free diet to recover.

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    Diagnosed with celiac disease at 31 years old. I´m a 5´8" female. My mom is 5´5" dad with celiac disease was 6" and my sister who doesn´t have celiac disease is 5´5 1/2" and my niece with celiac disease is on target with her I don´t seem to fit the theory either.

    Not picking on Alicia and Hannah specifically, but you have both misread the data here. First, it's not a theory, it is a simple data set from a large population with adult celiac disease. The data show that MOST people with adult celiac disease are shorter than their peers. It can be true that most people with celiac disease are shorter than their peers, AND true that a few rare individuals can also have adult celiac disease and be taller than their peers. BOTH things can be true. In fact, that's exactly what the data says: People with adult celiac disease who are taller than their peers are the exception, they are rare; most are shorter. The data says absolutely nothing about people without adult celiac disease, be they short or tall. I hope that helps.

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    I am the only one who has been tested for celiac disease in my family. I am several inches shorter then all the women, but I am not short at 5'6".

    The best way to think of it is this: If you had a genetically identical twin without celiac disease, you would likely be a bit shorter, regardless of how tall you both were overall.

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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 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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