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Harvard Health Blog
Simple blood test helps bring celiac disease out of the shadows
- By: Patrick J. Skerrett,
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
I got tested without even seeing a doctor. Ordered the test online, went to Labcorp and got back the results in my email.
As a doctor I find it alarming that coeliac disease is so undiagnosed. To Saheed Saka: celiac disease is a worldwide problem.
“A large proportion of coeliacs in most populations remain undiagnosed—recently estimated at four out of five affected individuals in the United Kingdom. The highest population prevalence of 5% was found in Saharawi refugees living in Algeria. Coeliac disease occurs in Asians, but is extremely rare in individuals of tropical African, Japanese, and Chinese descent.” from: http://www.enetmd.com/content/coeliac disease
“While the overall prevalence of coeliac disease is thought to be around 1 per cent in the West, there are variations among nations – for example, 2 per cent in Finland and 2.5 per cent in Mexico. Several studies show that the prevalence of coeliac disease has increased five-fold, from 0.2 per cent, in the past 35 years, and that it continues to rise, especially among the elderly…One US study showed that the incidence could be increased up to 30 or 40 times with intensive case-finding. Nevertheless, this is not enough. Several Italian studies have shown that no matter how intensive the case-finding, you can never reach the expected 1 per cent prevalence, and usually attain only 0.5 per cent. This has been proposed by some as a strong argument for mass screening, although this has ethical ramifications.
There are few parts of the world where gluten is not consumed – some south Saharan nations, some parts of the Far East, and New Guinea. Thanks to the general Westernization of the global diet, gluten consumption is likely to continue to rise, and with it the incidence of coeliac disease. Undetected cases will cost economies and health services dearly, and this is likely to remain a huge international challenge in the coming decade.”
There is another blood test as well for coeliac disease:
The anti-endomysial antibody test.
The anti-endomysial (EMA) test looks for antibodies against tissue called endomysium, which joins cells together. It is usually used as an additional test when the results of the tTG test are borderline or uncertain, although it is more expensive and difficult for medical teams to perform. When coeliac disease is present, it correctly confirms a positive diagnosis in 95 per cent of cases. When coeliac disease is absent, it correctly confirms a negative diagnosis 99 per cent of the time. It is more specific and more sensitive than the the tissue transglutaminase test.
Best wishes David
please excuse my UK spelling of celiac!
sorry the first link wrong . It should be
Please post the name of the test used to detect celiac- are you referring to the tTg-IgA? Most doctors still use IgA and IgG only to indicate Celiac, which they fail to do consistently and decisively.
Is this confined to the U.S or are there reported cases elsewhere in the world?This is because I -and presumably- most probably a greater Nigerian percentage as well as greater percentage of the continent might be hearing of celiac disease for the first time ever.
Great post with information regarding vitamin D deficiency.
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