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Pediatrics. 2009 Dec;124(6):1572-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2373.

The changing face of childhood celiac disease in north america: impact of serological testing.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.



The goal was to evaluate the impact of immunoglobulin A endomysial antibody testing on the incidence and clinical presentation of childhood celiac disease.


The incidence and clinical presentation of celiac disease in patients <18 years of age in 1990-1996 (pretesting group) versus 2000-2006 (testing group) were compared.


The median age at diagnosis was 2 years (95% confidence interval: 2-4 years) in the pretesting group (N = 36), compared with 9 years (95% confidence interval: 8-10 years) in the testing group (N = 199; P < .001); the female/male ratios (1.6:1) were similar (P = .982). The incidence of celiac disease increased from 2.0 cases per 100000 children (pretesting group) to 7.3 cases per 100000 children (testing group; P = .0256). The frequency of classic celiac disease presentations decreased from 67% (pretesting group) to 19% (testing group; P < .001), but the incidence of classic celiac disease did not differ (0.8 vs 1.6 cases per 100000; P = .154). In the testing group, 13 previously unrecognized clinical presentations were observed in 98 children, including 35 with family history, 18 with abdominal pain, and 14 with type 1 diabetes mellitus. The frequency of Marsh IIIc lesions decreased from 64% (pretesting group) to 44% (testing group; P = .0403). In the testing group, classic celiac disease remained predominant (67%) in young children (<3 years), whereas atypical gastrointestinal and silent presentations predominated in older children.


Antibody testing for celiac disease tripled the incidence of celiac disease and quadrupled the median age at diagnosis.

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