Alice Bast: Hi! I am Alice Bast President and C.
O of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, where part of our mission is to identify every celiac sufferer who is undiagnosed. Celiac disease is genetic autoimmune disease that destroys the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. People with the family history of celiac disease and certain other autoimmune diseases like Type 1 Diabetes have a higher risk of developing celiac disease.
Dr. Ritu Verma: 30-40% of Americans have the genes for celiac disease and 1% of the population will develop this disease. 1 in 22 first degree family members such as a parent, child or sibling will develop this disease. Second degree relatives such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, cousin or half-sibling are also at risk.
Alice Bast: Other autoimmune diseases that may develop in people with this genetic profile are Type 1 Diabetes, Thyroid disease and some liver diseases. As a matter of fact an estimated 1 in 10 Americans with Type 1 Diabetes has celiac disease. There are different medical test like a blood test or cheek swab that can determine if you are genetically at risk. Dr. Ritu Verma: People who have a family history of celiac disease and are positive for the celiac disease genes HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 should be tested every few years to prevent life-long complications, even if they have no symptoms at all. While a genetic test can rule out celiac disease only a blood test and small intestinal biopsy can provide an accurate diagnosis. If you are going to be tested with either the biopsy or blood test, it's very important that you maintain a regular gluten containing diet to ensure accuracy of the testing protocol. The genetic test may be an option when a person has already started a gluten-free diet and their doctor suspects the celiac disease.
Alice Bast: Undiagnosed celiac disease can cause a whole host of very serious problems including infertility and recurrent miscarriage, bone disease and even cancer. It can also increase your chances of developing other autoimmune diseases. Celiac disease testing is widely available across the US. You can ask your physician to start the diagnosis process by ordering a celiac disease blood test known as tTG-IgA or the celiac panel.
Celiac disease manifest differently in each individual. Learn the signs and symptoms and associated conditions and get yourself and your family tested if you or they are at risk.