The prevalence of celiac disease in childhood It is five times higher than that of the adult population. The frequency of CD in children is 1.3% (1/77), compared to 0.3% (1/357) among adults, according to a study carried out in collaboration between the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, the Mútua de Terrassa Hospital and the University of Barcelona, in which members of the Spanish Society of Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Pathology (SEQC) participated, published in the scientific journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
This is the first study of the prevalence of celiac disease in the scientific literature, and the cross-sectional sample of participants in the same, 4,230 people between 1 and 80 years, is representative of the composition by age and sex of the general population of Catalonia.
Dr. Carme Farré, member of the Spanish Society of Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Pathology (SEQC) and co-author of the study, points out that "the possible causes of this dramatic drop in prevalence with age are difficult to explain, especially if we consider the permanent character of the disease ".
Celiac disease is characterized by autoimmune alteration of the small intestine triggered by some non-digestible gluten peptides, which occurs in genetically predisposed people. Gluten is a viscoelastic mass, insoluble in water, which is part of the reserve proteins of cereals: wheat, rye, barley and others. The disease can be detected by its typical clinical symptoms, such as diarrhea and abdominal distension, or by the presence of specific antibodies in patients in risk groups, such as those with a first-degree family history, patients with type 1 diabetes, Down syndrome, etcetera.
At the moment it is not possible to prevent this condition, due to ignorance of the environmental and genetic factors that, together with the gluten of the diet and the profile of genetic susceptibility, provoke the inadequate response of the intestinal immune system. However, a well-diagnosed celiac who maintains a gluten-free diet will have a normal intestinal function and will not require medication or nutritional supplements, nor will it present associated complications.
Currently, a major multicenter study is underway, funded by the European Community (www.preventcd.com) to investigate the influence of dietary history on the prevention of celiac disease. "It is being investigated," Dr. Farré explains, "if the administration of small amounts of gluten in infants can induce the immune system to 'learn' to tolerate this protein. This process, called 'desensitization' or 'induction of tolerance', is applied in genetically susceptible children (genetic markers DQ2 and / or DQ8 positive), relatives of celiac patients. The results of this project will be very valuable for knowledge and innovation in the management of the disease. "
Source: Spanish Society of Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Pathology (SEQC)