Patients and methods: We assessed the frequency of coeliac disease in 281 children with Type 1 diabetes and the effect of gluten-free diet (GFD) in newly diagnosed cases. Serological screening was performed using anti-gliadin and anti-endomysium antibodies. Data were obtained about clinical symptoms, height and weight-for-height.
Results: A small intestinal biopsy was recommended to 18 patients (6.4%) with positive serological results and 12 children agreed. Nine of them had coeliac disease. Three out of nine coeliac children complained about gastrointestinal symptoms. On a GFD, the symptoms disappeared in two patients. Iron-deficiency anaemia was present in four subjects and disappeared in the three patients who accepted the GFD. In three patients (33%), coeliac disease was asymptomatic. Height and weight-for-height were in the normal range for all patients. For well-complying patients, there was a significant increase in height standard deviation at diagnosis and on follow-up (-0.28 vs. +0.35) (P = 0.03). Changes in weight-for-height were not significant (-4.0% vs. +1.4%) (P = 0.28). There was a trend to an improvement in HbA(1c) (8.0 vs. 7.3%) (P = 0.05).
Conclusions: Serological screening is effective. There is a therapeutic benefit for some screening-detected patients, but confirmatory studies are needed.