Prevalence of Coeliac disease in the general population of northern Spain. Strategies of serologic screening

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2000 Apr;35(4):398-402. doi: 10.1080/003655200750023967.


Background: Coeliac disease (CD) is common in Western countries. In Spain, however, no studies exist on its prevalence. The best method for serologic screening is also unknown.

Methods: We determined the IgA and IgG antigliadin antibodies (AGA) and IgA antiendomysium antibodies (AEA) in a sample of 1170 randomly selected subjects from a health area in northern Spain. The prevalence of CD was calculated with a two-step serologic screening method (first IgA and IgG AGA and then AEA in those positive for AGA) or with only one step with AEA determination. Diagnosis was confirmed by small-intestinal biopsy.

Results: When using a two-step strategy, we found 174 (15%) subjects with AGA. Only one of these was confirmed by means of AEA (prevalence of CD = 0.9/1000). Two subjects were found to be positive when a one-step strategy was used (prevalence of CD = 1.7/1000). This yielded an economic saving of 19% with regard to the use of a two-step strategy. One new case of CD in a seronegative subject was diagnosed during the study (real prevalence of CD = 2.6/1000; 95% confidence interval = 0.7-8.2).

Conclusions: The prevalence of CD in Northern Spain is 2.6/1000 (1:389). One-step serologic screening (AEA) is both more economical and more sensitive than the two-step procedure (first AGA and then AEA if AGA is positive).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G