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J Pediatr. 2003 Sep;143(3):308-14.

A prospective study of the incidence of childhood celiac disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, University of Colorado, Denver, USA.



To estimate the frequency of celiac disease (CD) in children in the general population of Denver, Colorado.


From 22,346 newborns characterized as expressing 0, 1, or 2 HLA-DR3(DQB1*0201) alleles, 987 were selected for a prospective stratified cohort study. Participants were followed for as long as 7 years with serial testing for serum IgA anti-transglutaminase antibodies and for evidence of CD (intestinal mucosal changes or persistent seropositivity).


Of 40 children with at least one positive serologic test, 19 had evidence of CD (10 by biopsy, 9 by persistent seropositivity). Those expressing 0, 1, or 2 HLA-DR3 alleles had, respectively, 0.3% (95% CI, 0.0-2.7), 3.4% (3.0-11.7), and 3.2% (1.0-11.0) risk for evidence of CD by age 5 years. The adjusted risk estimate for evidence of CD by age 5 years for the Denver general population was 0.9% (0.4-2.0), or 1 in 104 (1:49-221). After adjusting for number of HLA-DR3 alleles expressed, risk was higher in females: RR=3.34 (1.00-10.9, P=.048). Evidence of CD was not observed before age 2.6 years.


Celiac disease may affect 0.9% of Denver children by 5 years of age. Children positive for the HLA-DR3 allele and females appear to be at increased risk.

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