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Pediatrics. 2010 Mar;125(3):e518-24. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-0375. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Questionnaire-based case finding of celiac disease in a population of 8- to 9-year-old children.

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  • 1DMSc, Hans Christian Andersen Children's Hospital, Sdr Boulevard 29, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark.



Antibody screenings and diagnosis of celiac disease (CD) among children with type 1 diabetes have suggested that a considerable proportion of children with CD may, in fact, have preclinical (undiagnosed) symptoms. We aimed to test if a questionnaire would lead to significant case finding in an unselected population of 8- to 9-year-old children.


The study population included 9880 children aged 8 to 9 years. Before the study, 13 children from the study population were known to have CD. We developed a questionnaire on the basis of 5 simple items suggestive of CD and mailed the questionnaire to the families of all children in the study population who resided in the County of Funen, Denmark. In total, 7029 respondents returned the questionnaire (70%); among them, 2835 children had 1 or more symptoms. These children were invited for a blood test to determine their human serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (anti-tTG) levels.


Of the 1720 children who were tested for the human serum IgA anti-tTG, 24 participants had a positive result (range: 20 to >150 U). Seventeen of these children underwent an upper endoscopy procedure. Fourteen children had histologic signs of CD (Marsh classification stage III). Fourteen children met the diagnostic criteria for CD. The prevalence proportion of patients who were newly diagnosed with CD was 0.14% (95% CI: 0.08-0.24) (14 of 9967), and the estimate of the minimum total prevalence proportion of children with CD was 0.27% (95% CI: 0.18-0.39) (27 of 9980). The maximal prevalence proportion of patients with newly diagnosed CD was 1.22% (95% CI: 0.76-1.90) (21 of 1720), including those participants who had a positive anti-tTG result but not a final diagnosis of CD. The ratio of known to minimally symptomatic CD was approximately 1:1.


A number of preclinical and low-grade symptomatic patients with CD may be identified by their responses to a mailed questionnaire.

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