Study Suggests Vast Majority With Celiac Remain Undiagnosed

The largest population study to date has found a lower prevalence of diagnosed celiac disease in the United States than was estimated by previous screening studies. This adds strong evidence that the vast majority of people with celiac remain undiagnosed.

Researchers at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio identified 83,090 celiac cases in a commercial database of 35.9 million patients. This indicates about 0.23 percent, or 1 in 435 Americans, have been diagnosed with celiac.

Previous screening studies found celiac (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) affects up to 0.95 percent, or 1 in 105, Americans. The prevalence in some European countries is even higher. These new figures support estimates that more than three-quarters of American patients remain undiagnosed.

The data come from over 300 health centers across the country. It was aggregated to remove personal information so regional variations could not be determined. However, women, whites and adults were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with celiac as men, non-whites and children, respectively. Age data suggests diagnoses peak during early childhood and again in women during their 30s and men during their 40s.

Celiac often occurred alongside other health complaints, especially autoimmune disorders such as lupus, inflammatory bowel diseases and Type 1 diabetes. The authors call for liberal use of celiac testing whenever unexplained symptoms could be related to celiac.

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