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Doctors Recommend Celiac Screening for Kids with Mental Disorders, Low Cholesterol

Celiac.com 07/13/2009 - Doctors are recommending that kids with mental and behavioral disorders, and with low cholesterol be tested for celiac disease.

This, after findings from a recent study suggest that low plasma cholesterol levels might have a role in the development and pathogenesis of certain behavioral disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and obsessional neurosis in people with celiac disease.

It is well documented that children with celiac disease face higher rates of certain behavioral disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and obsessional neurosis. Still, not much is known about the development and pathogenesis of celiac-related mental and behavioral disorders.

A team of researchers made up of Italians Luca Mascitelli, M.D., Francesca Pezzetta, M.D., and American Mark R. Goldstein, M.D. set out to investigate the matter.

A large scale study of patients aged 6–16 years showed that most people with celiac disease harbored illness of low-grade intensity that was often associated with "decreased psychophysical well-being."

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Furthermore, a recent study found that adolescents with celiac disease face higher rates of depressive and disruptive behavioral disorders, especially before adopting a gluten-free diet. 2 For some, psychiatric symptoms appear to improve after the patients started a gluten-free diet.

Interestingly, children with malabsorption and steatorrhea due to celiac disease often have lower concentrations of blood cholesterol. Moreover, people with celiac disease, but who show no signs of overt cholesterol malabsorption, often show low levels of blood cholesterol, while normal to high cholesterol levels have been shown effective in ruling out celiac disease.

Add to that the fact that low cholesterol has been tied to other mental disorders. In particular, a national sample of non-institutionalized, non-African American children of school-age found a statistically significant association between low cholesterol and aggressive behavior.

Low cholesterol has also been tied to the onset of conduct disorder during childhood among male criminals. Therefore, they recommend that screening for celiac disease be considered in children and adolescents with mental disorders and low cholesterol.

Psychosomatics 50:300-301, May-June

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