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Jane Anderson

Celiac Disease Cases Spreading Worldwide Along with Western Diet

By December 20, 2012

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As wheat spreads around the world, so does celiac disease.


That's one of the conclusions from a new summary of best practices in diagnosing and treating the condition, written by celiac disease experts Drs. Alessio Fasano and Carlo Catassi and published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drs. Fasano and Catassi note that celiac affects between 0.6% and 1% of the population worldwide. Although many regard it as a condition that afflicts mainly caucasians, it's also common in North Africa and the Middle East ... countries that are beginning to adopt a Westernized, wheat-filled diet. In India, celiac occurs mainly in the northwestern part of the country, which (not coincidentally) is where wheat is a staple food.

"We are now seeing cases in China," says Dr. Catassi, a pediatrician at the Universitą Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy, and an expert on celiac disease epidemiology, "and in many developing countries the 'Westernization' of the diet means the rate of celiac disease is also growing."

Although diagnosis has improved in recent years, Drs. Fasano and Catassi note that the vast majority of people with celiac disease (79% in a recent European study) still don't know they have the condition. And although many people have the "typical" celiac disease symptoms of diarrhea and fatigue, others have so-called silent celiac disease, with no noticeable symptoms (but still plenty of intestinal damage).

Keep up with the latest in the celiac disease/gluten sensitivity world -- sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter - @AboutCeliac.

Photo © Getty Images/Martin Barraud

December 21, 2012 at 10:33 am
(1) jack rosema says:

My wife has been to the hospital more than four times, usually staying three to four days. Every time we were there I would ask the doctors to do a celiac test and they would refuse, saying that it did not show up in her blood test. I would try too tell them that web MD will show them how to do the test and they would just ignore me. On the last trip to the hospital I noticed on the paper that came with the food that her meal was gluton free. I ask the doctor why, and he said that it was normal, so within four days she would feel better and they would send her home,saying that they could find nothing, and even commenting that it was all in her head and she needed to seek mental help. Went home and I told her that we were on our own. So I decided to do some thing I thought might help and I started to read every label on everything that she would eat. To our great surprise I was right, she is allergic to wheat. Now she does not throw up anymore, no more trips to the hospital. When we told the doctor he said that it can’t be so and says it is all in her head. I am amazed that they don’t want to take the ball and run with it. We have Kaiser, and the only one that is THRIVING is Kaiser. thank you for your help, you have set us free. Jack

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