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UK Study Shows Celiac Disease Rates Four Times Higher in Last 20 Years

Celiac.com 07/16/2014 - Information about the number of cases and and overall rates of celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis in the UK have not been well studied over time, either by region or by age. Yet, this type of information is essential for determining potential causes and quantifying the impact of these diseases.

Image: Wikimedia Commons--Captain BloodTo provide this information, a team of researchers recently conducted a population-based study to assess incidence and prevalence of celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis in the UK over two decades.

The researchers included J. West, K.M. Fleming, L.J. Tata, T.R. Card, and C.J. Crooks. They are variously affiliated with the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, City Hospital Campus, The University of Nottingham, the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health at the City Hospital Campus of The University of Nottingham in Nottingham, UK.

They used the Clinical Practice Research Datalink to identify patients with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis between 1990 and 2011, and calculated incidence rates and prevalence by age, sex, year, and region of residence. They found a total of 9,087 incident cases of celiac disease and 809 incident cases of dermititis herpetiformis.

From 1990 to 2011, the incidence rate of celiac disease rose from 5.2 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval (CI), 3.8-6.8) to 19.1 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI, 17.8-20.5; IRR, 3.6; 95% CI, 2.7-4.8). During that same period, incidence of dermatitis herpetiformis decreased from 1.8 per 100,000 to 0.8 per 100,000 person-years (average annual IRR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.97).

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The absolute incidence of celiac disease per 100,000 person-years ranged from 22.3 in Northern Ireland to 10 in London. Celiac disease showed large regional variations in prevalence, while dermatitis herpetiformis did not.

The team found a fourfold increase in the incidence of celiac disease in the United Kingdom over 22 years, with large regional variations in prevalence.

This contrasted with a 4% annual decrease in the incidence of dermatitis herpetiformis, with minimal regional variations in prevalence.

These contrasts could reflect differences in diagnosis between celiac disease (serological diagnosis and case finding) and dermatitis herpetiformis (symptomatic presentation) or the possibility that diagnosing and treating celiac disease prevents the development of dermatitis herpetiformis.

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We have gone gluten free, our whole house, as of a month ago. It was pretty seamless since I had been gluten-free for 5 months last year. I have found many good recipes, and my picky husband and one of my boys who is also a picky eater, even prefer many gluten-free recipes to the regular ones. My husband did see my point about the size of the gluten protein means nothing. Its a gluten protein period, that's what you are avoiding. It doesn't matter if its hiding in the scratch of your baking sheet and you can't see it. You can't see the wind, but it's still there. I hear you on the anemia. I've been anemic for several years, I just thought it as because I was getting a little older. Has your anemia gone away or do you still have problems with it?

Ennis, it is made out of metal, coated with plastic I think. You have such a hard time, my heart really hurts for you. But you are such a support to those on this board, and a great teacher for those of us who are new.

Thanks everyone! I think its hard for people to fully accept because they cant see the damage it does every time you get glutened. It's invisible. Im glad to know I wasnt being paranoid. I sure was when I was first diagnosed. I laugh at myself now, but its a pretty steep learning curve.

FYI......anxiety is a common symptom with celiac disease and NCGI. It seems to resolve on a gluten-free diet. ?

Yes, I will definitely update you and would love to hear what your experience is. I'm glad I found this forum because you're right--it's nice to not feel so alone. I'm also prone to anxiety--so waiting and worrying is not fun! Cyclinglady, thanks for sharing your experience as well. I do plan to maintain a gluten-free diet for a while at least if the biopsy is negative just to see how I feel.