Background: It has been suggested that coeliac disease (CD) is associated with several neurological diseases. However, the evidence of such an association is inconclusive as earlier research has often been based on small numbers with retrospective data collection.
Aim: To use Cox regression to examine the risk of neurological disease in individuals with CD.
Methods: Through Swedish national registers we identified some 14 000 individuals with a diagnosis of CD (1964-2003) and 70 000 reference individuals matched for age, sex, calendar year and county.
Results: Coeliac disease was associated with later polyneuropathy [hazard ratio (HR) = 3.4; 95% CI = 2.3-5.1]. We found no statistically significant association between CD and subsequent multiple sclerosis (HR = 0.9; 95% CI = 0.3-2.3), Parkinson's disease (HR = 1.2; 95% CI = 0.8-1.9), Alzheimer's disease (HR = 1.5; 95% CI = 0.9-2.6), hereditary ataxia (HR = 1.3; 95% CI = 0.5-3.6), the symptom ataxia (HR = 1.9; 95% CI = 0.6-6.2), Huntington's disease (HR = 1.7; 95% CI = 0.3-8.6), myasthenia gravis (HR = 0.8; 95% CI = 0.2-3.8) or spinal muscular atrophy (HR = 0.5; 95% CI = 0.1-3.8). Prior polyneuropathy was associated with subsequent CD (odds ratio = 5.4; 95% CI = 3.6-8.2).
Conclusions: The association between CD and polyneuropathy indicates shared risks. We suggest that individuals with polyneuropathy routinely undergo screening for CD. There is no notable association between CD and other neurological outcomes investigated in this study.