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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2003 Oct;37(4):434-6.

Bone mineral density in children with untreated and treated celiac disease.

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Hacettepe University, Department of Pediatrics, Ankara, Turkey.



Osteopenia is a common complication in adults with celiac disease. The effect of a gluten-free diet on bone mineral density is a matter of controversy. The aim of this study was to investigate bone mineral density in children with celiac disease at diagnosis and in patients treated for 1 year.


Bone mineral density and bone mineral content were measured in 34 children with untreated celiac disease at diagnosis and in 28 patients on a gluten-free diet for 1 year. The results were compared with those of 64 gender- and age-matched healthy control subjects. Serum calcium, phosphate, alkaline phosphatase, 25 -hydroxy vitamin D, and intact parathormone levels were determined in treated and untreated patients.


The mean values of bone mineral density and bone mineral content of untreated patients with celiac were significantly lower than the control group (P = 0.006 and P = 0.005, respectively) and treated patients (P = 0.015 and P = 0.011 respectively). Treated patients had mean bone mineral density and bone mineral content values not significantly different from those of healthy control subjects. Minor hypocalcemia was detected in 17.6% of the patients with new diagnoses and 3.6% of the treated patients. Of the untreated patients, 29.4% had high intact parathormone concentrations; in untreated patients, the total was 14.3%. Untreated patients had significantly lower serum calcium and significantly higher intact parathormone levels than did treated patients. The other bone metabolism parameters were similar in the two celiac groups.


Children with celiac disease are at risk for reduced bone mineral density. A strict gluten-free diet improves bone mineralization, even in 1 year. Early diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease during childhood will protect the patient from osteoporosis.

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