Drs. Guandalini and Assiri have written a summary of pediatric celiac disease that was published in the online edition of the journal JAMA Pediatrics last week. In this post I will share some of the highlights of their review article.
Although the overall prevalence of celiac disease is 1% in the pediatric population, only 10-15% of children with celiac disease have been diagnosed and treated.
The celiac genes (HLA-DQ2 and DQ8) contribute 40% of the risk of developing celiac. Environmental risk factors for celiac disease include infant feeding patterns, early infections, gut microbiota, and the amount and timing of initial gluten exposure.
The two major autoantibodies used in the diagnosis of celiac disease include the anti-TTG IgA and antiendomysial IgA. The antibody against deamidated gliadin peptides IgG (DGP IgG) is a 3rd antibody that has been identified. The DGP IgG may be the best one to use for diagnosing celiac disease in young children (under the age of 2) as it has the highest sensitivity in this age group.
During the past few decades there has been a shift from children presenting with celiac disease having typical symptoms (gastrointestinal) to having extraintestinal (atypical) symptoms.
“Typical” symptoms include abdominal pain (most common), diarrhea, chronic constipation, weight loss, vomiting, abdominal distension, and malnutrition.
“Atypical” (extraintestinal) symptoms in children include all of the following:
- iron deficiency anemia
- dermatitis herpetiformis
- dental enamel defects
- aphthous ulcers (canker sores)
- arthritis and arthralgias (joint pains)
- low bone mineral density, fractures of bones
- elevated liver enzymes
- short stature
- delayed puberty
- cerebellar ataxia
- recurring headaches
- peripheral neuropathy
- psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, panic attacks, depression
Celiac disease is associated with other pediatric conditions, including type 1 diabetes mellitus, selective IgA deficiency, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Williams syndrome.
Patients with celiac disease are at an increased risk of all of the following (I was not aware of many of these associations until I read this article):
- adrenal insufficiency
- IgA nephropathy
- ischemic heart disease
- dilated cardiomyopathy
Dr. Guandalini recommends that celiac diagnosis in children involve celiac antibody testing, endoscopy with small bowel biopsy, and response to the gluten free diet. He does discuss that the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) has recently issued guidelines for diagnosis in which, in select cases, the small bowel biopsy can be omitted. Dr. Guandalini’s major concern is that if children undergoing evaluation do not have biopsies done, that other GI diagnoses that may need treatment, such as eosinophilic esophagitis, can be missed.
Celiac Disease resources that were discussed toward the end of the article include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, www.eatright.org, and an e-book created by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center called “Jump Start Your Gluten-Free Diet.”
In summary, this is a nicely written paper that is a great summary for pediatricians and other practitioners who need to be on the look out for celiac disease in their pediatric patients. I also thought that some of you non-medical folks might be interested as well!
Reference: Guandalini S, Assiri A. Celiac Disease: A Review. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Jan 6. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3858.