Background: Patients with celiac disease have an increased risk of death from gastrointestinal malignancies and lymphomas, but little is known about mortality from other causes and few studies have assessed long-term outcomes.
Methods: Nationwide data on 10 032 Swedish patients hospitalized from January 1, 1964, through December 31, 1993, with celiac disease and surviving at least 12 months were linked with the national mortality register. Mortality risks were computed as standardized mortality ratios (SMRs), comparing mortality rates of patients with celiac disease with rates in the general Swedish population.
Results: A total of 828 patients with celiac disease died during the follow-up period (1965-1994). For all causes of death combined, mortality risks were significantly elevated: 2.0-fold (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-2.1) among all patients with celiac disease and 1.4-fold (95% CI, 1.2-1.6) among patients with celiac disease with no other discharge diagnoses at initial hospitalization. The overall SMR did not differ by sex or calendar year of initial hospitalization, whereas mortality risk in patients hospitalized with celiac disease before the age of 2 years was significantly lower by 60% (95% CI, 0.2-0.8) compared with the same age group of the general population. Mortality risks were elevated for a wide array of diseases, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (SMR, 11.4), cancer of the small intestine (SMR, 17.3), autoimmune diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis [SMR, 7.3] and diffuse diseases of connective tissue [SMR, 17.0]), allergic disorders (such as asthma [SMR, 2.8]), inflammatory bowel diseases (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease [SMR, 70.9]), diabetes mellitus (SMR, 3.0), disorders of immune deficiency (SMR, 20.9), tuberculosis (SMR, 5.9), pneumonia (SMR, 2.9), and nephritis (SMR, 5.4).
Conclusion: The elevated mortality risk for all causes of death combined reflected, for the most part, disorders characterized by immune dysfunction.