Objective: The prevalence of symptomatic coeliac disease in Norway is 1:675. Coeliac disease has previously been reported in presumably healthy people. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of latent coeliac disease in apparently healthy (i.e. asymptomatic) Norwegian individuals.
Methods: Blood donor sera were tested for gluten antibodies (IgA, IgG). Positive samples (IgA AGA > 0.35, IgG AGA > 0.90) were further tested for endomysium antibodies (IgA EMA). EMA positive individuals were offered gastroenterological investigation.
Results: Of 2096 sera, 83 fulfilled the criteria for EMA testing (M/F = 55/28). Eight individuals were EMA positive. On biopsy, seven out of eight had villous atrophy (six subtotal, one partial). None of the patients had significant symptoms. Biochemical data showed iron deficiency (two), hypocalcaemia (one), and low serum zinc (five). All patients were treated with a gluten-free diet and followed up.
Conclusion: The study indicates a prevalence of 1:340 among asymptomatic and presumably healthy people. This is in keeping with studies from other countries. Lack of symptoms does not exclude secondary deficiency conditions.