New study uncovers high prevalence of undiagnosed Celiac Disease among family members
A new study just published by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research earlier this year, found that 44% of the immediate family members of patients with celiac disease had undiagnosed Celiac Disease themselves.
The vast majority of the family members with undiagnosed celiac disease either had no symptoms (28%) or non classic symptoms (66%). This supports the fact that symptoms do not correlate to the presence or severity of celiac disease in the body. Fortunately, the TTG blood test is an excellent marker of celiac disease and will identify 95% patients with the active disease. This study points to the need for the first degree relatives (parents, children and siblings) of individuals with celiac disease, to be screened for celiac disease when a family members is diagnosed.
Before taking gluten out of your diet, it is important to talk to your family doctor to get a diagnosis. This is because the test will only diagnose celiac disease if you eat a serving of gluten every day for one month before the test.
Sometimes, a person can develop celiac disease later in life, so it is also recommended for family members to get screened every few years or if you start to feel symptoms.
Undiagnosed celiac disease has long term health consequences including osteoporosis, bowel cancer and malnutrition if exposure to gluten continues over a lifetime.
Fortunately, there is a strong network of people living with celiac disease in Canada and lots of support on the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) website and the CCA facebook site.