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People with Celiac Disease May have Increased Schizophrenia Risk

BMJ 2004;328:438-439 (21 February)

Celiac.com 02/27/2004 – The following report is interesting, but I believe that serological studies done on those with schizophrenia would be a far better way to conduct such a study. Also, the use of such a small control group cannot accurately predict the actual incidence of schizophrenia in those with celiac disease. –Scott Adams

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According to a Danish study published in the British Medical Journal, people with celiac disease may have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. Previous studies have also suggested an association between these two disorders. The study identified 7,997 people over age 15 who were admitted to a Danish psychiatric unit for the first time between 1981 and 1998 and were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The researchers selected 25 random controls and matched their year of birth and sex, and identified any history of celiac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease in both groups, and in their parents. A "moderately strong risk relation between coeliac disease and schizophrenia" was discovered in the data, and the researchers stress that these findings only reflect a small proportion of cases, as both disorders are rare. The prevalence of celiac disease among schizophrenics was 1.5 cases per 1,000 compared to 0.5 cases per 1,000 in the larger control group, which means that there is a three times greater risk of schizophrenia in those with celiac disease. Interestingly Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis were not associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.

According to Dr. Eaton: More research is needed to understand the link between celiac disease and schizophrenia. The most important question is whether treatment for celiac disease, in the form of a gluten-free diet, would benefit the small proportion of individuals with schizophrenia who are genetically prone to celiac disease but have not been diagnosed with it."

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