Objective: Late diagnosis of celiac disease (CD) is increasingly common, the implications of which are largely unknown. Although short stature is a common sign of childhood CD, the data on the height of adult CD patients is conflicting. This study investigates the final height of men and women diagnosed with CD in adulthood and attempts to identify influencing factors.
Patients and methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of 585 adults at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, comparing their height with the control population (NHANES). Patients were included if they were older than 18 years of age at diagnosis and if baseline height and weight were available. In addition, we examined for differences in demographic and physical features, mode of presentation, and concomitant illnesses in shorter versus taller celiac patients.
Results: Men (n=162) with CD diagnosed in adulthood were shorter than men in the general population (CD: 169.3 ± 10.5 vs. 177.3 ± 7.0 cm, P<0.01) whereas women (n=423) were not (CD: 166.3 ± 9.4 vs. 163.2 ± 6.7 cm). There were no statistically significant differences in age at diagnosis, BMI, concomitant autoimmune illnesses (hypothyroidism, type I diabetes, dermatitis herpetiformis), or mode of presentation in shorter versus taller CD patients of either sex. Hemoglobin was associated with short stature in CD men (short: 13.9 g/dl, tall: 14.6 g/dl; P=0.01), but not women (short: 12.9 g/dl, tall: 13.0 g/dl, P=0.41).
Conclusion: Short stature is a well described phenomenon in pediatric CD with the potential for 'catch-up growth' on a gluten-free diet. However, among adults with CD who had attained final height before diagnosis, we found that men, not women, are shorter relative to the general population.