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Punjabi Americans Have Highest Celiac Disease Rates


Man demonstrates Bhangra, a traditional dance from the Punjab region of India. Photo: CC--Timothy J.

Celiac.com 06/03/2016 - Among patients diagnosed with celiac disease by small intestinal biopsy in the U.S., people from the Punjab region of India have the highest rates of disease, according to new research published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

In an effort to better understand celiac disease distribution in Americans of various ethnicities, a team of researchers led by Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, recently looked at more than 400,000 intestinal biopsies from a nationwide database. The team identified patients with celiac disease based on the presence of villous atrophy in the small intestine.

The researchers used a previously published algorithm based on patient names to identify celiac disease distribution among North Indian, South Indian, East Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Jewish and other Americans.

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The team's data shows that celiac disease is much less common among U.S. residents of South Indian, East Asian and Hispanic ancestry, while celiac disease rates among patients of Jewish and Middle Eastern ethnicities was similar to that of the general American population.

Earlier studies have suggested that celiac disease might be more common in women, but these findings show that men and women have similar rates of celiac disease when tested, regardless of ethnicity.

These findings show that, contrary to the previous medical thinking that celiac is a disease predominantly affecting Caucasian Europeans, the condition is better understood as "one of the most common hereditary disorders worldwide," noted Dr. Lebwohl.

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