Predicting Risk of Celiac Disease in High-risk Families

CR Meijer et al. Gastroenterol 2022; 163: 426-436. Open access: Prediction Models for Celiac Disease Development in Children From High-Risk Families: Data From the PreventCD Cohort

B Lebwohl, L Greco. Gastroenterol 2022; 163: 368-369 (editorial). Open access: Can We Predict the Onset of Celiac Disease?

Design: “In this study, the investigators analyze long-term follow-up data from the PreventCD trial, a randomized trial of infants [n=944] with a first-degree relative with CD that was designed to test the strategy of low-dose gluten introduction at age 4 months. The trial did not show that this strategy reduced the risk of CD development,7 but the abundant data collected during this trial have allowed these investigators to study risk factors for the development of CD among the trial participants.” The median f/u was 8.3 yrs.

Key points from study and editorial:

  • 135/944 (14%) children developed CD (mean age, 4.3 years)
  • CD developed significantly more often in girls (P = .005) and in Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-DQ2 homozygous individuals (8-year cumulative incidence rate of 35.4%
  • Prediction application calculator with screening recommendations This screening calculator generally recommends screening every 6 months for those at greastest risk and every 12 months for those at lower risk.

HLA testing in this setting has historically been performed primarily due to its excellent negative predictive value. Because HLA DQ2 and DQ8 are present in nearly 100% of people with CD, the primary value of its use has been in ruling out CD when an individual is found to have neither haplotype. This study shows some usefulness in predicting the likelihood of CD.

My take: This study showed 14% of high-risk children developed celiac disease and the number is likely to escalate with more time. In first-degree relatives, checking HLA-DQ2/8–typing may help determine frequency of screening in asymptomatic individuals –though simply choosing to screen every 1-2 years would be a reasonable alternative.

It should be noted that current expert guidelines provide divergent advice; “NASPGHAN recommends that asymptomatic children in high-risk groups (including first-degree relatives) be screened, 4 but the United States Preventive Services Task Force concluded that the evidence is insufficient to warrant recommending for or against screening asymptomatic individuals.”

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Westchester Lagoon, off Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Anchorage, AK

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

AAP Guidelines for Down Syndrome & Screening for Celiac Disease Plus One (How to Fix Diarrhea)

The AAP has updated recommendations for Down syndrome: MJ Bull et al. Pediatrics (2022) 149 (5): e2022057010. Open Access: Health Supervision for Children and Adolescents With Down Syndrome

For gastroenterologists, one area of concern is screening for celiac disease in this population due to a mildly increased risk.

Here is what is recommended in children after 1 year of age:

“For children on a diet that contains gluten, review for symptoms potentially related to celiac disease at each health supervision visit because children with Down syndrome are at increased risk. These symptoms include diarrhea or protracted constipation, slow growth, unexplained failure to thrive, anemia, abdominal pain or bloating, or refractory developmental or behavioral problems.9799  For those with symptoms, obtain a tissue transglutaminase immunoglobulin A (TTG IgA) concentration and simultaneous quantitative IgA. The quantitative IgA is important, because an IgA deficiency renders the TTG IgA unreliable. Refer patients with abnormal laboratory values for specialty assessment. Do not institute a gluten-free diet before confirmation of the diagnosis, because lack of gluten can make interpretation of endoscopic results difficult. There is no evidence that routine screening of asymptomatic individuals would be beneficial. There are neither data nor consensus that would indicate whether patients with persistent symptoms who had normal laboratory values on initial evaluation should have further laboratory tests.”

In addition to celiac disease, the AAP article has a ton of useful resources regarding Down syndrome for clinicians and families.

My take: Celiac disease is difficult to diagnose and is much more common in children with Down syndrome. It is worth noting that other Down syndrome groups, NICE and NASPGHAN have recommended screening for celiac in all children with Down syndrome. (Ref: M Pavlovic et al. World J Clin Cases. 2017 Jul 16; 5(7): 264–269. Open Access: Screening of celiac disease in Down syndrome – Old and new dilemmas)

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Also, a keen observation from Carlo Di Lorenzo’s twitter feed:

The corollary of this is how miraculous it is when a child who has not stooled for 3 weeks straight has no residual markers after swallowing a Sitz capsule.

Health Benefit from Disease State: Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency

It is well-recognized that genetic mutations that persist often confer some advantages. For example, sickle cell trait (but not disease) provides protection against malaria.

A recent study shows potential health benefits in those with sucrase-isomaltase deficiency: MK Andersen, L Skotte, E Jorsboe et al. Gastroenterol 2022; 162: 1171-1182. Open Access: Loss of Sucrase-Isomaltase Function Increases Acetate Levels and Improves Metabolic Health in Greenlandic Cohorts

Methods: “The association between c.273_274delAG and phenotypes related to metabolic health was assessed in 2 cohorts of Greenlandic adults (n = 4922 and n = 1629). A sucrase-isomaltase knockout (Sis-KO) mouse model was used to further elucidate the findings”

Key findings:

  • Homozygous carriers of the variant had a markedly healthier metabolic profile than the remaining population, including lower body mass index ( –2.0 kg/m2P = 3.1 × 10–5), body weight (–4.8 kg; P = 5.1 × 10–4), fat percentage (–3.3%; P = 3.7 × 10–4), fasting triglyceride (–0.27 mmol/L; P = 2.3 × 10–6), and remnant cholesterol (–0.11 mmol/L; P = 4.2 × 10–5).
  • The metabolic profile “was likely mediated partly by higher circulating levels of acetate observed in homozygous carriers” (0.056 mmol/L; P = 2.1 × 10–26), and partly by reduced sucrose uptake, but not lower caloric intake.
  • “These findings were verified in Sis-KO mice, which, compared with wild-type mice, were leaner on a sucrose-containing diet, despite similar caloric intake, had significantly higher plasma acetate levels in response to a sucrose gavage, and had lower plasma glucose level in response to a sucrose-tolerance test.” 

My take: It should not be surprising that a genetic condition that results in limited sucrose intake would have health benefits. Perhaps correcting this condition will result in unexpected health issues similar to health issues that can develop in those with celiac disease after institution of a gluten-free diet (Gastroenterol 2013; 144: 912-17).

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Graphical Abstract:

Tricky Article Title: IBD and Celiac

M Alkhayyat et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 385-392. Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease on Treatment Have Lower Rates of Celiac Disease

When I first saw this title, I mistakenly thought the title indicated that celiac disease (CD) occurred less often in those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This would have been surprising given previous studies have found the opposite. In fact, this study confirms the bidirectional associated risk between patients with CD and in patients with IBD but with a twist. Most IBD treatments were associated with a lower risk of developing CD than those who were not treated.

Database study: Of the 72,965,940 individuals in the database (1999-2020), 133,400 had celiac disease (CD) (0.18%), 191,570 (0.26%) had ulcerative colitis (UC), and 230,670 (0.32%) had Crohn disease.

Key findings:

  • Patients with IBD were more likely to have a diagnosis of celiac disease (odds ratio [OR], 13.680), with a greater association with Crohn disease (OR 24.473).
  • Treated patients with IBD with UC and with Crohn disease, respectively, had a lower risk association with CD compared to those not undergoing IBD treatment, specifically corticosteroids (OR, 0.407 and 0.585), 5-aminosalicylates (OR, 0.124 and 0.127), immunomodulators (OR, 0.385 and 0.425), and anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs (OR, 0.215 and 0.242)
  • A new diagnosis of CD after 1 year of IBD diagnosis, was 1.59% for Crohn disease and 0.90% for UC compared to 0.16% in patients without IBD (P<0.0001)
  • A new diagnosis of IBD, Crohn disease and UC respectively, in patients with celiac disease was 2.75% and 1.11% compared to 0.29% and 0.25% in the non-celiac population (P<0.0001)
  • A new diagnosis of IBD and celiac disease among patients with microscopic colitis was 10.5% and 2.6% respectively; a new diagnosis of microscopic colitis among patients with celiac disease was 0.01%

My take: This study confirms the bidirectional associated risk between IBD and celiac disease. The risk of developing celiac disease in those with IBD may be lower in those receiving some treatments; however, this assertion is limited by the nature of a database study.

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Celiac Disease, Hepatitis B and Paul Harvey

Growing up, I heard a number of Paul Harvey broadcasts on the radio. Often there would be an important twist at the end and he would conclude with ‘and that’s the rest of the story.’

This came to mind after reading a recent article on celiac disease and hepatitis B infection:

N Habash et al. JPGN 2022; 74: 328-332. Celiac Disease: Risk of Hepatitis B Infection


  • A cross-sectional study using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database (2009–2014) 
  • And a retrospective analysis of HBV infection in two cohorts: Mayo Clinic cohort (1998–2021) and the Rochester Epidemiology Project cohort (REP; 2010–2020)

Key findings:

  • Based on NHANES database, the rate of HBV infection in the United States was  0.33%
  • Of 93 patients with CD, 46 (49%) were vaccinated for HBV and of the remaining 19,422 without CD, 10,228 (53%) were vaccinated
  • Twenty-two (48%) vaccinated patients with CD had HBV immunity and 4405 (43.07%) vaccinated patients without CD had HBV immunity
  •  In NHANES data, there were no cases of HBV infection in patients with CD. Among the 3568 patients with CD seen at Mayo Clinic and 3918 patients with CD in the REP database, only four (0.11%) at Mayo Clinic and nine (0.23%) of the REP patients had HBV infection.

This finding is probably applicable to other conditions in which HBV immunity is ascertained.

My take: In contrast to other small studies, this study showed that the “rate of HBV vaccination and immunity was similar in individuals with and without CD.” In addition, there was no increased risk of HBV infection detected in CD patients. Thus, testing for HBV is not necessary in patients with CD.

And that’s the rest of the story.

Related blog post

Functional Abdominal Pain in Children with Celiac Disease

F Cristofori et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021; 19: 2551-2558. Functional Abdominal Pain Disorders and Constipation in Children on Gluten-Free Diet

This prospective cohort (2016-2018, n=417, mean age 13.7 y) examined the frequency of functional disorders (based on questionnaire) in children with celiac disease (CD) who were receiving a strict gluten free diet (GFD) for at least one year.

Key findings:

  • Functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPDs) had a higher prevalence s among patients with CD (11.5%) than controls (6.7%)  (P < .05)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional constipation (FC) defined by the Rome IV criteria were more prevalent in patients with CD (7.2% for IBS and 19.9% for FC) than controls (3.2% for IBS and 10.5% for FC) (P < .05 and P < .001, respectively)
  • Younger age (P < .05) and a higher level of anti–transglutaminase IgA at diagnosis (P < .04) were associated with FAPDs (in particular for IBS) irrespective of GFD duration
  • A GFD did help with abdominal pain: After starting a GFD, 80% of children with celiac disease had resolution of stomach pain, whereas 9% started to complain of symptoms after starting a GFD

In the discussion, the authors speculate on the reasons for ongoing pain including inadvertent gluten exposure, intestinal inflammation/visceral hyperalgesia, altered microbiome, and refractory CD.

My take: Persistent stomach pain in CD is a common occurrence, even in those trying to adhere to a strict GFD.

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Favorite Posts of 2021

I am happy to say that this is the last nightcall that I will have this year!

Today, I’ve compiled some of my favorite posts from the past year. I started this blog a little more than 10 years ago. I am grateful for the encouragement/suggestions from many people to help make this blog better. Also, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.





Other Topics:

Thanks to Jennifer

Clever Study to Assess Utility of TTG IgA For Monitoring Response to a Gluten-Free Diet

K Payne et al. JPGN Reports: 2021; August 2021 – Volume 2 – Issue 3 – p e097. Open Access Repeat Biopsy to Assess Duodenal Healing in Children With Celiac Disease and Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders

Background: “Current standard of care in the management of uncomplicated CD is not to undergo multiple esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGDs)…  In this study, patients with both CD and eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGID) …) were identified to explore [the mucosal response to a gluten-free diet], as it is standard for patients with EGID to undergo repeat EGDs for disease surveillance.”

Key findings in this retrospective study from CHOP:

  • At second biopsy, 44% (17/39) of patients showed no histologic evidence of active CD and 36% (14/39) of patients had negative tTG-IgA values
  • 9/15 (60%) of patients with no evidence of CD on biopsy had abnormal tTG-IgA levels
  • 8/14 (57%) of patients with normal tTG-IgA levels had evidence of active disease on biopsy
  • Among the 18 who had been on a GFD for at least 2 years, 94% (17/18) had normal duodenal biopsies after 2 years, and 83% (15/18) had normal tTG-IgA values after 2 years
  • Of the patients with elevated tTG-IgA and normal duodenal biopsies, 66% (6/9) had inflammation elsewhere in the upper gastrointestinal tract, including 4 patients with active EOE and 2 patients with gastritis

My take: This study confirms that tTG-IgA levels are not optimal for monitoring. Current guidelines recognize this and recommend repeat biopsy in patients with persistent or relapsing symptoms even with negative serology

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Celiac Disease and Lack of Response to Hepatitis B Immunization

A Aneja et al. JPGN Reports February 2021 – Volume 2 – Issue 1 – p e046: Open Access: Clinical Characteristics of Children With Celiac Disease Not Responding to Hepatitis B Vaccination in India

Methods: The study population from consisted of 3 groups—50 newly diagnosed CD children (group 1), 50 previously diagnosed CD children who were on gluten free diet (GFD) >3 months (group 2), and 100 age and gender matched healthy controls (group 3).

Key findings:

  • Positive anti-HBs response was found in 46% in newly diagnosed CD children, 60% in CD children on GFD, and 83% in healthy controls (P < 0.001)
  • Ongoing gluten intake has significant impact on protective immune response to Hepatitis B vaccine
  • 44 out of 45 (97.77%) nonresponders from CD group seroconverted after a single booster dose

My take: Check Hep B immune response in patients with celiac disease.

Related blog post: Improving Care Process in Celiac Disease

Celiac Advocacy: Food Labeling Modernization Act

Gluten-Free Watchdog: Let’s Make Some Noise! Everything you need to contact your members of Congress asking them to support the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021

There are multiple ways to reach out to representatives and senators. Choose whatever method works best for you–mail, email, phone call, or in-person. Below is some information to help make the process easier.

  • Find representatives HERE.
  • Find senators HERE.
  • Sample phone scripts and letters noted on webpage link

More information from Celiac Disease Foundation: Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 – Marilyn’s Message August 2021

“On August 3, 2021, the Food Labeling Modernization Act (FLMA) of 2021 (H.R.4917 and S.2594) was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ed Markey (D-MA). This legislation would update front-of-package food labeling requirements, require updates to the ingredients list on packaged foods, and apply consumer friendly labeling requirements, including the disclosure of gluten-containing grains...

As we know from the FDA’s Gluten-Free Labeling rule, food labels play an important role in managing celiac disease, yet federal labeling rules still do not require that food ingedients disclose if they containing barley or rye. This labeling change will allow concerned consumers to know, for example, if the malt syrup or natural flavorings in their food contains barley.

Food labels need to provide the simple, straightforward information that celiac patients need to evaluate products and make healthy choices.

Please take one minute to email your Members of Congress to support the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 to make it easier and safer for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to purchase food items by disclosing if foods contain gluten.”