If a family member has celiac disease, you should test yourself

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In a groundbreaking study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, researchers have found a strong prevalence of undiagnosed celiac disease in first-degree relatives of individuals already diagnosed with the condition.

This research aligns with international recommendations to screen close family members for celiac disease.

Celiac Disease: A Serious Autoimmune Disorder

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten consumption in genetically susceptible individuals. Symptoms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system.

However, if left undiagnosed, celiac disease can lead to severe health issues, including osteoporosis, infertility, and small bowel cancer.

Led by Dr. James Daveson from the Wesley Research Institute in Brisbane, the study aimed to assess the prevalence of undiagnosed celiac disease among first-degree relatives (children, siblings, or parents) of diagnosed individuals.

Researchers invited 202 first-degree relatives of 134 diagnosed celiac patients for celiac disease testing.

The screening process involved HLA-DQ2/8/7 polymerase chain reaction genotyping to identify celiac disease risk alleles. Where possible, participants also underwent a small bowel biopsy.

Findings: High Prevalence Among Children

The study revealed that 7 out of 62 child first-degree relatives had biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, indicating an estimated prevalence rate of 11%.

Among relatives with celiac disease susceptibility haplotypes, the prevalence rose to 14%.

Dr. Daveson hopes the study underscores the need for family screening among healthcare providers. Identifying undiagnosed cases, especially in high-risk groups like children, is crucial for early intervention and preventing long-term health complications.

The Need for Awareness and Action

This study highlights the importance of proactive screening for celiac disease in first-degree relatives of diagnosed individuals.

By raising awareness and recommending screening, health practitioners can significantly impact the early detection and management of celiac disease in Australia.

If you care about health, please read studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and this plant nutrient could help reduce high blood pressure.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The research findings can be found in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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