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Diabet Med. 2014 Feb;31(2):208-12. doi: 10.1111/dme.12329. Epub 2013 Oct 30.

Early elevation of albumin excretion rate is associated with poor gluten-free diet adherence in young people with coeliac disease and diabetes.

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  • 1Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead; Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, Sydney.



There are conflicting data on microvascular complications in coexisting Type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease. We compared complications rates in youth with or without coeliac disease and examined the association between gluten-free diet adherence and complications.


This was a comparative study of adolescents (2510 without coeliac disease, 129 with coeliac disease); 60 (47%) did not adhere to a gluten-free diet--defined as elevated anti-tissue transglutaminase or endomysial immunoglobulin A titres. Retinopathy was detected using 7-field fundal photography and albumin excretion rate by timed overnight urine collections, with early elevation defined as albumin excretion rate ≥ 7.5 μg/min. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between complications and explanatory variables, including coeliac disease vs. no coeliac disease, gluten-free diet adherence vs. non-adherence, diabetes duration and HbA1c .


Median age at last assessment was 16.5 years. Those with coeliac disease vs. those without were younger at diabetes diagnosis (7.1 vs. 8.6 years, P < 0.001) and had longer diabetes duration (9.3 vs. 7.2 years, P < 0.001). HbA1c was lower in those with coeliac disease vs. those without (67 vs. 70 mmol/mol, 8.3 vs. 8.6%, P = 0.04) and adherence to a gluten-free diet vs. non-adherence (66 vs. 72 mmol/mol, 8.2 vs. 8.7%, P = 0.003). There were no differences in complication rates between those with coeliac disease vs. those without (retinopathy 22 vs. 23%, elevated albumin excretion rate 31 vs. 28%). Non-adherence to a gluten-free diet was associated with elevated albumin excretion rate (40 vs. 23%, P = 0.04). In multivariable logistic regression, elevated albumin excretion rate was associated with non-adherence to a gluten-free diet (odds ratio 2.37, 95% CI 1.04-5.40, P = 0.04) and diabetes duration (odds ratio 1.13, 95% CI 1.02-1.25, P = 0.03), but not HbA1c .


While glycaemic control is better in patients with coeliac disease, non-adherence to a gluten-free diet is associated with elevated albumin excretion rate. The possible protection of a gluten-free diet on complications warrants further investigation.

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