Late celiac disease diagnosis makes cognitive recovery harder

By Jason Clevenger

Summary: A study by a group of Italian researchers reported that a group of patients diagnosed with celiac disease relatively late in life (older than 65 years of age) score significantly lower on tests of cognitive ability than a group of age-matched control subjects, even though the celiac disease patients had been on a gluten-free diet for an average of five years.

Conclusion: Despite the small number (18 patients) in the group, the authors conclude that cognitive performance is worse in elderly celiac disease patients than other patients from the general population, despite several years on the gluten-free diet. This finding makes prompt diagnosis of celiac disease in elderly patients that much more important, in order to minimize any irreversible impairment of cognitive function.

[1] “Cognitive performance is impaired in coeliac patients on gluten free diet: A case-control study in patients older than 65 years of age”, S. Casella, B. Zanini, F Lanzarotto, C Ricci, A. Marengoni, G. Romanelli, A. Lanzini, Digestive and Liver Disease, Apr 2012, epub ahead of print.