Screenings for celiac disease in children and young people who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should always be carried out, researchers have recommended.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, occurs when a person’s immune system reacts negatively to gluten and causes damage to the gut’s lining. Gluten is a protein found in foods such as wheat, rye and barley.
A link between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes has previously been identified, but now a large Australian study has discovered a high prevalence of celiac disease in the early stages of diabetes in young people.
Information collected from a total of 52,721 children and young people with type 1 diabetes was used to determine the study outcomes.
The results showed that celiac disease was present in 3.5 per cent of the children and youngsters with type 1 diabetes. The average age of celiac disease disease was 8.1 years.
Out of those with celiac disease and type 1 diabetes, duration of diabetes at the diagnosis of celiac disease was:
37 per cent within a year
18 per cent within one to two years
23 per cent within three to five years
17 per cent greater than five years
Children who had celiac disease as well as type 1 diabetes were diagnosed at a younger average age (5.4 years) than the children with type 1 diabetes but not celiac disease (7 years).
The research team, led by Dr Maria Craig, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Sydney and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, used data from around the world to collect their findings.
The authors noted: “The findings support universal screening for [celiac disease] in patients with type 1 diabetes, particularly within the first two years after the diagnosis of diabetes, irrespective of ethnicity.”
They also think there may be a link between a person’s height and the conditions they may develop.
“Although the lower height [standard deviation score] in those with [celiac disease] warrants further investigation using longitudinal data and documentation of adherence to the gluten-free diet, the observation emphasizes the importance of monitoring growth and nutrition in this population.”
The study has been published online in Diabetes Care.