Researchers urge celiac disease screenings for children with type 1 diabetes

Jack Woodfield
Wed, 05 Jul 2017
Researchers urge celiac disease screenings for children with type 1 diabetes
Screenings for celiac disease in children and young people who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should always be carried out, researchers have recommended.

Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, occurs when a person's immune system reacts negatively to gluten and causes damage to the gut's lining. Gluten is a protein found in foods such as wheat, rye and barley.

A link between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes has previously been identified, but now a large Australian study has discovered a high prevalence of celiac disease in the early stages of diabetes in young people.

Information collected from a total of 52,721 children and young people with type 1 diabetes was used to determine the study outcomes.

The results showed that celiac disease was present in 3.5 per cent of the children and youngsters with type 1 diabetes. The average age of celiac disease disease was 8.1 years.

Out of those with celiac disease and type 1 diabetes, duration of diabetes at the diagnosis of celiac disease was:
  • 37 per cent within a year
  • 18 per cent within one to two years
  • 23 per cent within three to five years
  • 17 per cent greater than five years
Children who had celiac disease as well as type 1 diabetes were diagnosed at a younger average age (5.4 years) than the children with type 1 diabetes but not celiac disease (7 years).

The research team, led by Dr Maria Craig, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Sydney and The Children's Hospital at Westmead, used data from around the world to collect their findings.

The authors noted: "The findings support universal screening for [celiac disease] in patients with type 1 diabetes, particularly within the first two years after the diagnosis of diabetes, irrespective of ethnicity."

They also think there may be a link between a person's height and the conditions they may develop.

"Although the lower height [standard deviation score] in those with [celiac disease] warrants further investigation using longitudinal data and documentation of adherence to the gluten-free diet, the observation emphasizes the importance of monitoring growth and nutrition in this population."

The study has been published online in Diabetes Care.
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