Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found in a recent study that fewer than half of the people who should be screened for celiac disease actually are being tested.
Celiac disease is considered a disease of the digestive system as well as an autoimmune disease. It causes damage to the small intestine, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food and triggers an abnormal immune response to foods containing gluten. The disease affects people worldwide, including more than 2 million people in the United States.
The study, which was led by Dr. Heba Iskander, looked at the medical records of 616 patients over a three-month period. Researchers found that only 43% of patients with an indication for celiac disease screening—such as chronic GI problems, type I diabetes, or a close relative with celiac disease—received a test for the condition. Further analysis of the data projected that at least two celiac disease patients were missed during the course of the three-month study.
The lead author of the study concluded that while current guidelines by the American Gastroenterological Association and the American College of Gastroenterology for diagnosing the disease are sensible approaches, a more thorough system for identifying patients is needed.
Reference: Iskander, Heba et al. Celiac Disease Screening is Suboptimal in a Tertiary Gastroenterology Setting. Gastroenterology, Vol. 146, Issue 5, S-113–S-114.