[Prevalence of asymptommatic coeliac disease in children and adults in the Dresden region of Germany].Dtsch Med Wochenschr 2002; 127(28-29):1511-5DM
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
Coeliac disease (CD) can be present without any, only a few, or many symptoms. Since asymptomatic CD can have the same complications and also carries the same risk for malignant disease as clinically typical CD inadequately treated by diet, early diagnosis is essential. The prevalence of asymptomatic CD in the Dresden region was determined by antibody screening. At the same time the sensitivity and specificity of the different antibodies were calculated.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Anti-gliadin and endomysium antibodies and total IgA content were measured in the serum of 3004 children (group A), aged 5-12 years, and of 4313 blood donors (group B), aged 17-64 years. Small-intestine biopsies were recommended if either (1) endomysium antibodies (EmA) or (2) anti-gliadin antibodies (ACA) and clinical symptoms or (3) AGA-IgG in the presence of total IgA deficiency and clinical symptoms had been demonstrated.
EmA were demonstrated in 0.17% of group A and in 0.28% of group B. But AGA were found much more frequently (group A: 3.89%, group B: 3.76%). The number of cases of CD confirmed by biopsy indicated a prevalence of asymptomatic CD of 1 in 500 children and 1 in 540 adults. Sensitivity and specificity of EmA were significantly higher than those of AGA.
Compared with a previous study on the prevalence of clinically typical CD in the same region, the present investigation indicates a four-fold higher prevalence of asymptomatic CD. Coeliac-specific antibodies should, therefore, be measured much more widely in the presence of certain symptoms and risk factors. While in adults the measurement of EmA is sufficient to provide the indication for a small-intestine biopsy, both EmA and AGA should be determined before a biopsy is undertaken in children.