Shocking Facts About Celiac Disease

celiac awareness month

Photo credit: Celiac Disease Awareness Month

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, so it seems appropriate to share some medical facts about this autoimmune disease that just might shock you.

These facts come from Dr. Tom O’Bryan who is is a nationally recognized speaker and workshop leader specializing in gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.  Dr. O’Bryan’s specialty is in teaching the many manifestations of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease as they occur inside and outside of the intestines.

What follows are a few excerpts compiled by Dr. O’Bryan from some of the thousands of scientific based research papers on the subject of celiac disease:

  • Celiac disease is one of the most common lifelong disorders in both Europe and the U.S.
    NEJM 348;25 June 19,2003
  • Celiac disease is a much greater problem than has previously been appreciated.
    ARCH INTERN MED/VOL 163, FEB 10, 2003
  • In the past seven years, one in four children were diagnosed as having celiac disease as a result of case-finding of associated conditions. Pediatrics 2009;124;1572-1578
  • Celiac disease diagnosed in childhood was associated with a 40% increase in suicide risk.
    Dig Liver Dis 2011 Aug;43(8):616-22
  • Autoimmune disorders occur 10 times more commonly in the gluten sensitive enteropathy celiac disease than in the general population. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 62 (2005) 791-799
  • Prolonged fatigue or “tired all the time” should alert the physician to celiac disease.
    Gastroenterol Hepatol 2003; 15: 407-13
  • The prevalence of celiac disease has increased five-fold overall since 1974. This increase was not due to increased sensitivity of testing, but rather due to an increasing number of subjects that lost the immunological tolerance to gluten in their adulthood.
    Ann Med. 2010 Oct;42(7):530-8
  • Seven out of 10 tests for celiac disease can come back with ‘false negatives’  N Engl J Med Oct.23 2003,1673-4 (meaning the test says everything is ok and it’s really not)
  • The single most important risk factor for celiac disease is having a first-degree relative with already-defined celiac disease, particularly a sibling. A rate up to 20% or more has been noted. World J Gastroenterol 2010 April 21; 16(15): 1828-1831
  • The latest numbers indicate that as many as one in every five people have some form of gluten-sensitivity. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2010 Jun;14(6):567-72


Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA
Jennifer D. Harris,
Atlanta Gluten-Free Examiner
Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA

[Editor’s Note: You will find over 300 signs, symptoms, associated disorders and complications listed in Recognizing Celiac Disease, by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN. Recognizing Celiac Disease is the most comprehensive medical reference on celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the world and has been endorsed by physicians and faculty at prestigious medical institutions throughout the United States. ]

About Jennifer Harris

Jennifer Harris
Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta Gluten-Free Examiner Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA

One comment

  1. After over 50 years of lack of and mis diagnosis in desperation I put myself on a gluten free diet 3 yrs ago. I was taken to hospital when I was 5 yrs old and the idiot doctor ran chalk down my spine and said did it hurt? Well of course it did – i was only 5! But he said I didn’t know what pain was! I suffered from stomache ulcers, asthma, migraines, constipation and severe stomache aches for 50 yrs and was unable to eat even things such as marmalade or onions (and dozens and dozens more things). The only thing that helped were stodgy foods – bread etc. ironic it was the very thing making me ill. Most things have improved considerably now I am gluten free but I do think my body has been irrepairably damaged in a lot of ways. Why don’t the medical profession realise it is not just diahhrea and stomache cramps, there are mamy many symptoms.

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