Background: Unrecognized celiac disease (CD) may be found in a substantial proportion of patients with type I diabetes mellitus.
Methods: A cohort of 403 Austrian children and adolescents with type I diabetes mellitus (210 males and 193 females; age range, 1-22 years) was screened for celiac disease using the IgA anti-endomysium antibody test (EMA) and the immunoglobulin (Ig)G anti-gliadin (AGA-IgG) and IgA anti-gliadin (AGA-IgA) antibody test.
Results: Twelve patients' sera (2.98%) yielded positive EMA results and two patients' sera (0.49%) with IgA deficiency had high AGA-IgG values. All but one of these patients underwent intestinal biopsy. Six (1.49%) had clear histologic evidence of CD (flat mucosa), whereas three (0.74%) showed minor histologic changes (increase in intraepithelial lymphocytes) and four (0.99%), including the EMA-negative patients with IgA deficiency, had a normal mucosa. When the cases with silent and potential CD were combined, the overall prevalence in the current cohort was 2.98%. There was no difference in the hemoglobin (Hb)A1c level between antibody-positive and -negative patients, and subsequent gluten-free diet did not change this metabolic parameter.
Conclusion: The prevalence of clinically unrecognized CD, found by EMA screening, is much higher in Austrian children with diabetes than in a comparable population without diabetes. The prevalence of CD in diabetic children in Austria is distinctly lower, however, than in several other countries.