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Celiac Disease Prevalence is on the Rise


Celiac.com 08/19/2011 - According to recent estimates, 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease - approximately 1% of the population, and only three percent of them have to this writing been correctly diagnosed. As startling as that sounds to us all, according to a news article on Medscape Today, the incidence of celiac disease has increased markedly over the last three decades, perhaps even as fourfold, and studies are suggesting the incidence may actually be higher than 1% of the population.

What is the reason for this? According to Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson, MD, from the Department of Medicine, Epidemiology Unit at the Karolinska Institute and Orebro University Hospital in Sweden, and a renowned celiac expert, there may be many factors explaining this, but there probably is an actual increase underlying these.

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The Medscape article went on to report that the Mayo Clinic has confirmed increase in celiac disease incidence, reported in Discovery's Edge, the Mayo Clinic's research magazine. Dr. Joseph Murray, MD, and colleagues analyzed stored blood samples from Air Force recruits in the early 1950s for gluten antibodies. It was assumed that 1% would be positive, given today's estimates, but the number of positive results was far smaller. Dr. Murray and his colleagues compared their results with two more recently collected sets with the conclusion that celiac disease is about four times more common today than it was in the 1950's.

Additionally, Dr. Ludviggon's research team in Sweden has found that those living with celiac disease and latent celiac disease have higher mortality than those who don't have these conditions. Latent celiac disease is also known as "gluten sensitivity," a term to describe those who have "normal small intestinal mucosa but positive celiac disease serology," estimated to affect 1 in 1000 people. According to Dr. Ludvigsson's research team, in 1 year, 10 of 1000 individuals with celiac disease will die, as compared with 7 in 1000 individuals without the disease. The mortality rate is increased among those who also have latent celiac disease as well. The increased risk, however, is quite small.

As alarming as the statistics are regarding the increasing rate of celiac disease, Dr. Ludvigsson shares some good news with Medscape—the methods of diagnosing celiac disease are actually improving. According to some other estimates, the rate of celiac diagnosis rate is increasing. For those who are testing positive for the celiac disease, the only method of treatment currently available is eliminating gluten from the diet. Yes, this is a simple treatment, although it can require some challenging lifestyle adjustments for the gluten-free community, something which I address in my work as an author, researcher, and gluten-free advocate. In the future, we may see other treatments such as gluten-digesting enzymes (which are on the rise) or even the genetic modification of the structure of gluten in wheat so that it will not cause an autoimmune reaction in celiac patients. Even with celiac diagnosis incidence on the rise, with raised awareness and effective diagnosis, we can help change the lives of millions of celiac Americans for the better. This is an important endeavor.

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2 Responses:

 
Spencer Jackson
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said this on
21 Aug 2011 11:05:57 AM PDT
I love this post, being gluten intolerant I know how important it is to help others with the same problem.

 
Sue
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
29 Aug 2011 5:37:30 AM PDT
What causes celiac disease? What seems to be causing its increased incidence?




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So, here goes...my visit with the GI specialist is on Monday. I had tested positive for the IGG antibody and all other bloodwork was negative. I had numerous trips to emerg with stomach pain, lower back pain, tingly tummy, and diarrhea with alternating "c" (I had the word constipation). One diagnosis of diverticulitis, another of IBS, and symptoms continued to get worse....Low B12 for 7 years and abnormal liver (something like hepatocellular disease with cirrhosis). I only have a glass of wine on the weekends...I had been diagnosed in my early 30s with IBS and imodium helped. I also had a rash on my elbows and back and that is when my new GP said maybe it is celiac and she sent me for bloodwork and 3 months later finally get to see the GI specialist. I went gluten free and at first it was hard. It is much easier now...I think at time I give myself contamination because I get some bouts of pain on occasion and I take buscopan and immodium and then I am fine....I am 100% convinced I have celiac but I guess I really do not understand how the rest of the panel would be negative... The rash, the GI symptoms, the B12, and the liver issue all paint a compelling picture...I never thought I would say this but I hope it is truly diagnosed because then I can move forward with a plan. I am down 22 pounds and back at the gym very hard and feeling almost normal for the first time in many years....I also find is so strange that my "gluten" attack usuallys starts with a pins and needs tingly sensation in my back and tummy...I have written a full history and have copies of all my test results so the GI specialist takes me seriously...I read his reviews and they are not good....I understand I will have to do gluten before the endoscopy but that fine...just looking forward to this being partly over...Have a great day!

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/faqs/ You can also find lots of information on celiac at the University of Chicago celiac site. One test they suggest is the anti EMA antibodies. I don't see that one listed in her results. Probably because it is more expensive to do. So they may have skipped it. The other test they usually do is the total serum IGA levels, which is used to prove that the person's immune system actually makes IgA antibodies. Some people don't make IgA antibodies, so the IgA tests are useless in them. It looks to me like she makes IgA though, if this is the serum IgA result. IgA 133 mg/dl Reference range 33-200 There are also gene tests they can do. The genes indicate the possibility of developing celiac disease, not the automatic presence of celiac disease. About 30% of people in the USA have one of the genes for celiac disease, but only about 1% develop celiac disease. Some of the celiac genes are associated with other autoimmune conditions besides celiac disease. So there are lists of AI associated conditions with celiac disease. Sometimes called related conditions. http://www.drschaer-institute.com/us/celiac-disease/associated-conditions-1051.html

Blood was drawn this afternoon... they said I could get results tomorrow or even the next day! I also have a GI appt scheduled for June 9th. I am so glad I will have at least some kind of answer pretty soon. I'll let you all know. Thanks again for being so helpful!

Thank you so much for those links, I will check into it. Her pediatrician told me this afternoon she is wanting to repeat the bloodwork since that one test was elevated. I'm relieved that her pediatrician didn't dismiss it like the other dr in the practice did.

http://www.houstonceliacs.org/ https://www.csaceliacs.org/csa_chapter_25.jsp You can check with these groups to see if they recommend any doctors in Houston.