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Celiac disease tripled in children in last 20 years

Lana Bandoim's picture

A new study examined data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) and found that celiac disease has tripled in U.K. children in the last 20 years. More than 2 million children were in the THIN system, and 1,247 had the disorder. The rate of diagnosis was higher for girls than boys, but there are other issues researchers noticed.


Researchers from the U.K. and Italy found that there was an increase in celiac disease among children in the U.K. They also noticed a disturbing trend related to socioeconomic status and diagnoses. Children in poor areas, which the researchers described as the most-deprived areas, were less likely to be diagnosed with celiac disease. Although the scientists could not give a definitive reason for the difference they noticed, it is possible families in these areas are less likely to seek medical intervention.

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Scientists are still investigating why celiac disease cases tripled among children in the U.K., but several explanations have been proposed. One possibility is that people are becoming better educated about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, so they are more likely to have their children tested. More screening programs and more tests are also responsible for the change. However, this could account for some of the higher numbers, but it does not explain all of them. Another possibility is our food has changed during the last 20 years, and it has affected our ability to handle gluten. A third reason could be related to environmental changes and toxins.

More education about the disease may help close the gaps seen between socioeconomic status and diagnosis rates. This would also require an effort from parents who would have to be willing to learn about celiac disease and watch for symptoms. However, the benefits to their children would be long-term and could prevent serious damage to their intestines.

Read more about celiac disease:
Dietitian offers gluten-free diet advice for celiac disease
Gluten-free bread maker from Panasonic revealed at CES