In an effort to establish some consistency in the definitions for coeliac disease used by researchers, a team of physicians met in Oslo in 2011 to compile and examine the terms used both online and in the specialist literature. The results were published in a study by Ludvigsson et al.
Celiac disease affects roughly 1% of the general population, but estimates for the number of people with gluten sensitivity are far higher. Gluten Sensitivity has a wide range of symptoms and effects. Digestive tract disorders are often accompanied by other dysfunctions throughout the entire body. Based on the assumption that some 10-22.5% of people with celiac disease suffer from neurological disorders as well as gastroenterological complaints, a study in the UK has investigated the effects gluten sensitivity on the nervous system.
An increasing number of cases of another type of gluten intolerance – which differs from both celiac disease and wheat allergies – are being observed around the world. Indeed, gluten sensitivity is currently a hot topic for debate.
Therefore, whether gluten intolerance can occur in every age group, whether prevalence figures have changed in recent years and which accompanying illnesses can occur with coeliac condition should be looked into. With this in mind, celiac antibody tests from over 3500 subjects from 1974 (CLUE I) and 1989 (CLUE II) were investigated and compared. This revealed that the prevalence of 1:501 in 1974 had risen to 1:219 in 1989. Within 15 years, the prevalence of celiac disease had doubled in the CLUE cohort and had increased five-fold in the USA since 1974. The study showed that this increase can be attributed to an increasing number of subjects losing their immunological tolerance for gluten as adults.
Source: Natural history of celiac disease autoimmunity in a USA cohort followed since 1974, Carlo Catassi et al; Annals of Medicine, 2010; 00: 1–9