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BMJ Open. 2012 Nov 22;2(6). pii: e001385. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001385. Print 2012.

Have serological tests changed the face of childhood coeliac disease? A retrospective cohort study.

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  • 1Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.



The aim of this study was to evaluate if the use of antitransglutaminase (tTG) and antiendomysium (EM) antibodies has modified the profile of coeliac disease (CD) in children.


Retrospective cohort study.


Monocentric study, in one major tertiary centre in Paris. Two cohorts of patients were compared; the first included patients before the use of antibodies, and the second included patients after the use of antibodies.


All patients from the same physician diagnosed with a CD between 1976 and 1992 (historical cohort), and between 1994 and 2007, were included in the study. 56 patients were included in the historical cohort, 59 in the recent cohort.


Clinical, biological and histological profiles at diagnosis have been studied.


The recent cohort diagnosis of CD was based in 27% on a systematic screening (type I diabetes, n=10; CD in siblings, n=6). On comparison of CD patients in the historical to the recent cohort, the following significant differences were observed: Median age at diagnosis increased from 1 year to 2.7 years (p<0.0001). Patients in the historical cohort had more gastrointestinal symptoms (93% vs 63%, p=0.0001) and failure to thrive (98% vs 80%, p=0.0025). Nutritional deficiencies and morphological lesions were more severe in the historical cohort (90% subtotal or total villous atrophy vs 51%, p<0.0001). Differences observed between the two cohorts were mainly due to the presence of screened patients.


A new type of patients, with a paucisymptomatic or asymptomatic CD, has been identified using serological tests. Silent disease has been diagnosed by screening in a target population. In the other patients of the recent cohort, symptoms were similar but less severe than those observed before. Long-term risks of untreated silent CD are not well determined as yet, and have to be evaluated in prospective studies.

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