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Do We Have More Celiac Disease Because Fewer Children Are Dying?

What's the relationship Between Child Mortality Rates and Prevalence of celiac disease?


Does less infant death mean more adults with celiac disease? Photo: CC--Kicki Zeilon

Celiac.com 08/15/2017 - Some evidence indicates that rates of celiac disease in the general population are increasing over time.

Prior to the discovery of gluten's role in celiac disease, the prognosis for celiac sufferers was bleak. Did higher betas of death keep celiac disease rates correspondingly lower?

To provide an answer, a team of researchers set out to examine a possible relationship between mortality rates for children under five, and prevalence rates of celiac disease. The research team included Federico Biagi; Alberto Raiteri; Annalisa Schiepatti; Catherine Klersy; and Gino R. Corazza.

Their team conducted a review of literature, and found 27 studies done in 17 different countries between 1995 and 2011 describing rates of celiac disease in schoolchildren. Four of the studies were conducted in Italy.

Their meta-analysis compared prevalence rates between specific-country under-five mortality groups, publication year and age.

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In recent decades, mortality rates for under-five year olds have been decreasing all over the world. This reduction is paralleled by rising rates of celiac disease. The Spearman correlation coefficient for these terms was -63%, 95%CI -82% to -33% (p < 0.001).

So, the higher the mortality rate, the lower the prevalence of celiac disease. This finding is confirmed by the meta-analysis of the 4 studies conducted in Italy over time.

The mortality rate for under five-year-olds seems to influence the rate of celiac disease in the general population.

They predict a rise, in the near future, of the number of celiac disease patients, due to better survival rates of celiac children.

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