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  • Jefferson Adams

    What's the Celiac Risk for Close Relatives of People with the Disease?

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 11/18/2015 - Researchers have known for some time that first-degree relatives (FDRs) of celiac patients are at high risk for developing the disease, and that prevalence among them varies from 1.6 to 38%. However, not much is known about specific risk levels when the FDR is sister, brother, mother, father, son, or daughter of a celiac patient.

    Photo: CC- Wendell OaskayA team of researchers recently conducted a meta-analysis and calculated pooled prevalence of celiac disease among FDRs, second-degree relatives (SDRs), and specific relations with given celiac patients. The research team included P. Singh, S. Arora, S. Lal, T.A. Strand, G.K. Makharia. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Max Healthcare, Gurgaon, India; Medical Services Division, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Lillehammer, Norway; and the Department of Gastroenterology and Human Nutrition at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



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    The team searched 2,259 related medical articles, and found 54 articles relevant for their meta-analysis. They defined celiac disease diagnosis using standard biopsy and Marsh criteria. Analysis of their data group showed an overall celiac disease prevalence of 7.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) 6.3%, 8.8%) in 10,252 FDRs and 2.3% (95% CI 1.3%, 3.8%) in 642 SDRs.

    Pooled celiac disease rates were highest in siblings, at 8.9%, followed by offspring, at 7.9%, and parents, at 3.0%.

    A total of 8.4% of female FDRs showed rates of celiac disease compared to 5.2% male FDRs (P=0.047).

    Sisters and daughters of a primary patient had the highest risk of having celiac disease, at 1 in 7 and 1 in 8, respectively), compared to a risk of 1 in 13 in sons, 1 in 16 in brothers, 1 in 32 in mothers, and 1 in 33 in fathers.

    The data also revealed differences in the pooled prevalence of celiac disease in FDRs according to their geographic location.

    Average pooled rates of celiac disease among FDRs is 7.5%, but the actual rate for a given individual varies widely based on their relationship with the primary celiac patient, and is also influenced by gender and geographical location.

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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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