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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jul;38(7):751-4.

Better dietary compliance in patients with coeliac disease diagnosed in early childhood.

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Dept. of Paediatrics, Linköping University, Norrköping Hospital, Norrköping, Sweden.



In coeliac disease (CD) there is a permanent gluten intolerance requiring life-long adherence to a strict gluten-free diet (GFD). An inadequate diet increases the risk for long-term complications. Coeliac patients often have great difficulty in maintaining a strictly GFD. We aimed to study whether young adults with CD diagnosed before the age of 4 years have a better dietary compliance than patients diagnosed later in life.


Twenty-nine adults with CD diagnosed in childhood were studied. They had had CD for 17-24 (mean 20) years. Their compliance to GFD was assessed using a questionnaire and serological markers (IgA and IgG anti-endomysium antibodies and IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies).


At least 80% of the coeliac patients who had been diagnosed before the age of 4 years complied with the GFD compared to 36% of the CD patients older than 4 years at diagnosis (P < 0.05).


This is the first study to show that patients with CD diagnosed before 4 years of age keep to a GFD significantly better than patients diagnosed after 4 years. It is thus important to diagnose childhood CD as early as possible in order to minimize the risk for reduced well-being and other potentially serious complications in coeliac individuals on an inadequate diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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