Coeliac Disease in the 21st Century: No Longer “Kids’ Stuff”

Alfredo J. Lucendo, Álvaro García-Manzanares, Ángel Arias, Dolores Fuentes, Noemí Álvarez, Isabel Pérez, Danila Guagnozzi, Luis Rodrigo


Background: We aimed to determine if Coeliac disease (CD) can be still be considered a predominantly paediatric disorder, in spite of the increased incidence of adult-onset CD reported in recent years.

Methods: An observational, descriptive, and retrospective study was developed at two Spanish hospitals. Data was collected and analyzed from all paediatric and adult patients newly diagnosed with CD throughout the year 2010. CD diagnoses were based on a concordant clinical history, serology, HLA-DQ compatibility, the presence of mucosal lesions in duodenal biopsies with gluten dependence of symptoms, and histological lesions.

Results: A total of 79 patients were diagnosed with CD throughout 2010, of which 68 (86.1%) were adults. Classic symptoms (diarrhoea and iron-deficiency anaemia) were more frequent in children (90.9%), being present in only 54.4% of adults (p = 0.02). Adult patients showed, mainly, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, and GERD-related symptoms. Villous atrophy (Marsh III) was present in 63.7% of children, but only in 19.1% of adults (p = 0.004). Positive tTGA was present in 81.8% of the children and only in 19.1% of the adults (p = 0.004). Haemoglobin levels were significantly lower in children (p = 0.025), but no differences were observed in iron and ferritin blood levels.

Conclusions: Our study shows that adult-onset CD was the predominant presentation in two hospitals in Spain in the year 2010. Therefore, CD can no longer be considered a predominantly paediatric disorder. Marsh I and negative tTGA titters are characteristic in most of adults. New diagnostic algorithms are needed to improve correct diagnosis of CD in adults.

Gastroenterol Res. 2011;4(6):268-276

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