Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adult Onset Celiac

"Celiac disease is triggered by eating foods that contain gluten, an essential protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Gluten prompts the immune system to destroy the lining of the small intestine, which prevents people from absorbing the nutrients in food and leaves them at risk of malnourishment. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, constipation, anemia and fatigue. An estimated one in 133 people in the U.S. have the disease.

Researchers had thought celiac disease could develop only during childhood, in response to initial exposure to gluten. It didn't seem possible that people could eat gluten with no problems for decades and then suddenly lose their ability to tolerate it.

But that's exactly what researchers from the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and their colleagues found.

They piggybacked on a study designed to identify risk factors for cancer and heart disease. Participants provided health information and blood samples in 1974 and again in 1989.

The researchers tested those blood samples for biomarkers related to celiac disease. They found that seven had the condition in 1974, none of whom had been diagnosed. By 1989, the number of cases had risen to 16, though only one had been diagnosed.
Overall, the prevalence of the disease more than doubled from 0.21% to 0.45%, the researchers reported. At least two people developed the disorder after they turned 50."

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