A research team from England investigated the prevalence of undiagnosed celiac disease in the general population.
Subjects were aged 45-74 years, recruited from General Practice age-sex registers in Cambridge for a UK health survey.
Stored serum collected during the Cambridge General Practice Bone Health Study in 1990-94 were tested for total IgA and anti-endomysial antibody (EMA). The specificity of EMA was at least 99.9%.
Of approximately 8000 samples, 3354 were tested. The researchers are currently conducting IgA antitissue transglutaminase assays, the conference heard.
|1.3% of individuals possessed the anti-endomysial antibody.
|British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Conference |
1.3% of the total samples tested were EMA positive. For subjects aged 44-54 years, the proportions were 1.1% for males and 1.2% for females. Proportions were 1.6% and 1.4% for those aged 55-64 years, and 0.7% and 1.3% for 65-74 year-olds.
None of the 42 EMA-positive subjects were known to have celiac disease at recruitment.
The investigation encompassed the largest general population sample studied so far, said the authors.
Dr J. West, of the University of Nottingham, said on behalf of the group, "The prevalence of celiac disease (1.3%) was found to be higher than that of any previous study in the UK or elsewhere. Prevalence was similar in men and women."
"Undiagnosed celiac disease may therefore affect up to 1 in 80 people aged 45-74 years in England," it was concluded.