The purpose of this population-based study was to determine the prevalence of coeliac disease (CD) in 106 Danish children (age 2-18 y) with type I diabetes mellitus compared with 106 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Serum samples were analysed for immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG gliadin antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), for IgA endomysium antibodies (EMA) by immunofluorescence and for IgA tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) by ELISA. None of the controls had EMA or tTGA. Two diabetics previously diagnosed with CD were antibody negative on a gluten-free diet. Ten diabetics had both EMA and tTGA. Intestinal biopsy was performed in nine of them. All biopsies showed a histological picture of partial or total villous atrophy confirming the diagnosis of CD. Diabetics with CD were significantly younger (p = 0.026). had an earlier onset of diabetes (p = 0.005), had a lower height standard deviation score (p = 0.019) and more often had thyroid antibodies (p = 0.040) compared with diabetics without CD.
Conclusion: A high prevalence of CD of 10.4% (95% confidence interval 4.6-16.2%) was found in young Danish diabetics. Early onset of diabetes may predispose to CD. Routine serological screening for CD may be valuable in patients with type I diabetes mellitus.