Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence of infertility, abortions and perinatal mortality, age at menarche and menopause in coeliac disease.
Method: This was a case control study in which patients and controls, matched for age and sex, were sent questionnaires about their fertility profile and other obstetric and gynaecological problems. All 80 patients and 70 controls replied, but only 68 pairs could be matched for this study.
Results: The mean age of menarche in patients was significantly older (13.6 years) than in controls (12.7 years). The mean ages at menopause in patients and controls were 47.6 and 50.1 years, respectively. The mean number of children born to patients was significantly less at 1.9 (SD +/- 0.9) compared to 2.5 (SD +/- 1.2) in controls. Before diagnosis the mean number of children born to patients was 1.4 and 1.8 in controls. After diagnosis and treatment, patients had 0.5 children (SD +/- 0.9) compared to 0.7 in controls (SD +/- 1.2). It seems likely that the overall difference in fertility is due to relative infertility prior to diagnosis and its correction by a gluten-free diet. Significantly more conceptions amongst women with coeliac disease (15%) ended in miscarriage prior to diagnosis than amongst controls (6%). After diagnosis and treatment the rate of miscarriage was similar. There were 120 live babies and 7 stillbirths to patients compared with 161 live babies and 1 stillbirth to controls.
Conclusions: Patients with CD are subfertile and have an increased incidence of stillbirths and perinatal deaths.