Coeliac disease (CD) is one of the most frequent chronic diseases in childhood. The clinical spectrum has changed; in addition to the classical gastrointestinal form, other clinical manifestations have been described, such as hypogonadism and the consequent delay in onset of puberty. Recent studies reported not only a significantly retarded menarche in untreated CD girls as compared with girls following a gluten-free diet, but also in treated CD a negative effect on pregnancy, resulting in lower birth weight and shorter duration of pregnancy. In boys, there is a reduced serum level of dihydrotestosterone and an increased serum level of luteinizing hormone, an abnormality pattern suggesting androgen resistance. The pathogenesis of CD-related reproductive disorders is still unclear. Some hypotheses may be tried; for example, in CD there is a high level of autoantibodies directed against self-antigens, so there could be antibodies directed against hormones or organs critical for pubertal development. Moreover, in CD there could be a selective malabsorption of micronutrients essential for the metabolism of carrier or receptor proteins for sex hormones.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel