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Type 1 Diabetics should be screened for celiac disease

Posted By Alison On Jul 14, 2010 @ In Celiac Disease,Gluten Intolerance,News & Research,Symptoms | 2 Comments

This is important! All type 1 diabetic patients, regardless of the presence of symptoms, should be regularly screened for celiac disease. This was the message at The Endocrine Society 92nd Annual Meeting, based on findings in a new study of Type 1 diabetics.

I’ll break down the numbers for you, as I understand them:

  • 493 patients were screened for celiac disease within roughly 3 months of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
  • 25 of these patients had positive celiac blood tests on their initial screening. Of those who tested negative the first time around, 14 tested positive the second time, making the total number of patients with a positive blood test 39, or 8% of those screened.
  • Of the patients who tested positive on the blood test, 12 had positive biopsies (one showed a positive biopsy 5 years after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.) 7 have not been biopsied.

Now, these numbers are compelling, but I still believe the number of those with a gluten problem is higher. We know that the tests for celiac miss people. A lot of people. I wonder if the gluten intolerance or sensitivity, undetected by mainstream tests, contributed to the onset of  diabetes. The diabetes gets noticed first, because doctors understand it, are aware of it, know how to diagnose it, and to treat it, but perhaps it is another symptom of gluten wreaking havoc on the body.

Having diabetes is hard. Having celiac is hard. Having them both — well, I can’t speak from personal experience, but I imagine it is doubly hard. I can also imagine that someone with type 1 diabetes or a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes would not want to think about having celiac too. But I hope that my urging to pay attention to gluten will get someone’s attention out there.

Undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten intolerance can lead to very serious problems. As stated in an article about the study, “Undiagnosed celiac disease might cause significant morbidity… Short-term complications include growth disturbances, weight loss, and difficulty achieving glycemic control in type 1 diabetics. Long-term complications can include small bowel malignancy.” And these are just a few of the many symptoms and associated conditions related to celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

To read articles about the study, go to the Global Diabetes Community or to Medscape.com (sign up for a free account).

Does anyone have a personal story about gluten and diabetes?


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