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  • Jefferson Adams

    Should Celiac Disease Screening Focus on Kids With IBS?

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Ernst Vikne
    Caption: Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Ernst Vikne

    Celiac.com 06/23/2014 - Previous studies of adults have shown a strong connection between celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome, but there has been very little data for children.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Ernst VikneA research team recently set out to determine rates of celiac disease in children with ongoing abdominal pain.



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    The researchers included Fernanda Cristofori, MD; Claudia Fontana, MD; Annamaria Magistà, MD; Teresa Capriati, MD; Flavia Indrio, MD; Stefania Castellaneta, MD; Luciano Cavallo, MD; Ruggiero Francavilla, MD, PhD.

    They are variously affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine, Pediatric Section at the University of Bari ’s Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bari, Italy, the Department of Pediatrics at Ravenna Hospital in Ravenna, Italy, and the Department of Pediatrics at San Paolo Hospital in Bari, Italy.

    For their prospective observational study, the team tested 782 children who presented with abdominal pain-related disorders, 270 with IBS, 201 with functional dyspepsia, and 311 with functional abdominal pain. All subjects were treated between 2006 and 2012 at the university hospital of Bari, the regional tertiary referral center for gastrointestinal disorders.

    As a primary screen for celiac disease, the researchers used serum tests for immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin A antitissue transglutaminase, and endomysial antibodies. They then confirmed the diagnosis with upper endoscopy, including multiple duodenal biopsies.

    Overall, fifteen patients tested positive for celiac. They included
    12 children with IBS (4.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.5% - 7.6%), 2 children with functional dyspepsia (1.0%; 95% CI, 0.2% - 3.5%), and 1 child with functional abdominal pain (0.3%; 95% CI, 0.1% - 1.7%).

    The team concluded that treating IBS as a high-risk condition for celiac disease might be help pediatric primary care specialists extend celiac disease screening to children with IBS
    rather than testing all children with recurrent abdominal pain,

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    I think any child should be tested for gluten intolerance (with a DNA test from a blood sample) and if it shows one marker or more, go gluten free. Kids that have a problem thriving, are sick a lot or are lactose intolerant may be more at risk.

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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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