Does It Make Sense to Look for Celiac Disease in Children with Functional Constipation?

A recent study (AC Fifi et al. J Pediatr 2020; 227: 77-80.Full text PDF: Celiac Disease in Children with Functional Constipation: A School-Based Multicity Study) shows that celiac disease was not more prevalent in Colombian children with functional constipation(n=203) than in matched healthy controls (n=419). Patients were recruited from public schools.

Key finding:

  • The overall prevalence of celiac disease in the entire cohort was 0.6%. Of those with functional constipation, 1 (0.5%) was diagnosed with celiac disease, and 3 (0.7%) of the control patients

The authors note that some prior publications (references 11 and 12) have found a slight increase risk of celiac disease in children with constipation.

My take: In children with functional constipation, the yield from testing for celiac disease is very low and probably not significantly greater than the general population. In children with irritable bowel syndrome (which is often confused with constipation), the yield is probably a bit higher.

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