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Bone. 1999 Sep;25(3):355-60.

Bone recovery after a gluten-free diet: a 5-year follow-up study.

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Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Finland.


The purpose of our study was to investigate the recovery of bone disease in celiac patients during 5 years of a gluten-free diet. The study group consisted of 28 newly diagnosed celiac patients (9 men, 19 women) recruited between 1990 and 1991. Six patients withdrew from the 5-year follow-up. Compliance with the gluten-free diet was good: 96% at 1 year and 82% at 5 years. During the follow-up period, the body mass index increased significantly (8%). Both in men and women, bone mineral density (BMD) values determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) increased at the lumbar spine (2%), the femoral neck (1%), the trochanter (6%), and the Wards' area (3%) during the follow-up. The increase in BMD was found already during the first year of follow-up. After 1 year, BMD increased or remained the same in 69% of the patients at the lumbar spine and in 67% of the patients at the femoral neck, 89% of patients at the throchanter, and 67% of patients at the Wards' area. During the 5-year follow-up, these figures were 52%, 46%, 68%, and 59%, respectively. At the baseline, 19 out of 28 patients, after 1 year, 14 out of 26 patients, and after 5 years, 2 out of 26 patients had low serum 25(OH)D vitamin values (p = 0.0001). A high serum parathormone value was noticed in 6 out of 25 patients at the baseline, but after 1 year, 5 of them showed normalized values (p = 0.03). According to our results, bone disease in celiac patients is cured in most patients during 5 years on a gluten-free diet. The improvement in BMD mostly occurred already within the first year after the establishment of a gluten-free diet.

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