More Research is Needed before Changing Celiac Disease Screening Guidelines

Thursday, December 19, 2019 Research News
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Celiac disease (CD) is a common autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. At present, there is no routine screening for CD in genetically predisposed individuals, however, findings from a new study provide evidence that challenges the current guidelines and warrants a serious evaluation of current screening practices, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “In a retrospective cohort study published by Nellikkal and colleagues in 2019 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 104 patients with a diagnosis of celiac disease and their first-degree relatives (FDR) were analyzed using data from electronic health records and data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) CD registry between 1983 and 2017.”



Karim continues: “Out of 360 FDRs, celiac disease was detected in 44.4%, with a significant proportion exhibiting no symptoms (28%). The current guidelines recommend that only symptomatic FDRs be tested, however, the results from this study make a case for screening all FDRs. More importantly, screening family members for CD would identify CD earlier, improving patient outcomes, and preventing long-term complications like nutritional deficiencies, other autoimmune conditions, and small bowel malignancy.”

From this study, the number of diagnosed CD cases more than doubled as a result of screening FDRs. GlobalData epidemiologists therefore predict that the current diagnosed prevalence estimates of CD will follow a similar trend in the future, should screening of FDRs become routine.

Karim adds: “The US could potentially see an increase of approximately one million newly identified CD cases, increasing the diagnosed prevalence from 0.18% to 0.46%. However, additional research and sampling are needed before any disease guidelines are changed.”

*6MM: The US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK


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