from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in collaboration with an
international team of researchers have demonstrated that screening of
genetically susceptible infants can lead to the diagnosis of celiac disease at
a very early age.
collaborative group studied 6,403 children with specific genetic markers from
birth to identify the factors involved in the development of both celiac
disease and type 1 diabetes. The children are from the United States, Finland,
Germany and Sweden and are part of The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes
in the Young (TEDDY) study. Interestingly, the study also found that
Swedish residents had a higher risk for celiac disease than their European
neighbors in Finland and Germany, and a nearly two-fold higher risk of celiac
disease than their U.S. counterparts, despite sharing the same high-risk celiac
disease is an autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine and
interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It can sometimes
develop silently, leading to long-term medical complications if left
untreated. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a
protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also
be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms.
study is published in
the July 3 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The research
was funded by the NIH, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Liu, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School
of Medicine and lead author of the study, said the findings are significant
because it will help determine when screening should begin in at-risk children.
In addition, it will allow the group to explore factors that may be causing
Swedish children to develop celiac disease at a higher rate than other
findings in this report set the stage for the study of complex relationships
between genetic, environmental and gestational factors that may play a role in
the development of celiac disease in early childhood,” said Liu, who is the
Taplin Endowed Chair for Celiac Disease and director of the Colorado Center for
Celiac Disease at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Rewers, MD, PhD, the principal investigator of TEDDY, and the late George
Eisenbarth, MD, PhD, both from the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes,
are co-authors of the study. The senior author and leader of the Celiac Disease
Committee within TEDDY is Daniel Agardh, MD, PhD, from Lund University in
Sweden. Other contributors to the study are from the University of South
Florida, the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle,
Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Germany, the University of Bristol in the
United Kingdom, Dresden University in Germany, the University of Turku in
Finland and members of the TEDDY Study Group.
The primary goal of TEDDY is to find the causes of type
1 diabetes and celiac disease. TEDDY has screened more
than 425,000 infants who are at high risk for type 1 diabetes, eventually
following the health of 8,677 children among more than 20,000 eligible to
participate. Because the major genetic factors that confer risk for type 1
diabetes are shared by celiac disease, researchers are evaluating this group
for development of celiac disease.