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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Oct;23(10):833-8. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e328348f9aa.

Is it time to screen for adult coeliac disease?

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, University of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Kate.evans@sth.nhs.uk


To meet the principles of screening as described by Wilson and Jungner a disease must be common, a significant health burden, detectable and treatable. The key lies in the early detection and alteration of the natural history of disease. Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people. Despite this patients frequently have delays in diagnosis or may remain undetected. There is an associated morbidity and mortality which can be effectively treated by simple means of a gluten-free diet. For these reasons coeliac disease has been suggested as appropriate for mass screening. However, there are caveats to this: a complex clinical spectrum, a natural history that is imperfectly understood, overestimation of morbidity and mortality, poor adherence to treatment, and costs of service provision may argue against the time being right for mass screening. This review article provides the most contemporary overview and reference base to allow any clinician to understand the benefits or limitations of a screening programme for adult coeliac disease.

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