Children with celiac receive inadequate medical follow-up, according to a study at Boston Children’s Hospital. Within three years, half of patients were lost to follow-up, despite national guidelines that all celiac patients need routine assessment. Children diagnosed at a younger age and those with private health coverage were found to continue seeing their gut specialist longer.
The data were collected and analyzed by Boston University student Bradley Blansky for a master’s thesis. He drew records of 250 randomly selected children diagnosed with celiac at the hospital between 2010 and 2014. After diagnosis, 9 percent did not attend any follow-up visits, 14 percent stopped attending within the first year and 17 percent failed to receive counseling from a dietitian. One quarter of patients gave abnormal blood tests on their last visit, indicating poor dietary adherence.
Experts advocate follow-up because children with celiac have a better quality of life when they receive medical support to change their diet and lifestyle. Adolescents need help with knowledge and skills adjusting to peer pressure and new situations. Follow-up can also prevent eating disorders, anxiety and depression, increased risks for children on restrictive diets.
Health providers may need to take more proactive measures to ensure children with celiac receive continued care.