New research has found an increased prevalence of celiac disease among children with irritable bowel syndrome. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine, and if left untreated it can lead to serious health problems. The condition is hereditary, and individuals with a parent, child or sibling with celiac disease have a 1 in 10 risk of developing it.
The new research used a cohort study conducted between 2006 and 2012 in a referral centre for the diagnosis and follow-up of gastrointestinal disorders. A total of 992 children who had abdominal pain-related disorders, including IBS, were involved in the study. After performing blood tests on all of the children and classifying their conditions, the researchers found that 270 of them had IBS, 201 had functional dyspepsia, 311 had functional abdominal pain and 210 were taken out of the study because they had some other disorder not related to abdominal pain.
The results of the study showed that 4.4% of the children with IBS tested positive for celiac disease, compared with only 1% of those with functional dyspepsia and 0.3% of those with functional abdominal pain.Although previous studies have shown an increased prevalence of celiac disease in adult patients with IBS, the researchers from this latest study say this link has not been widely proven in children. The researchers also say that the prevalence of celiac disease among children with IBS is four times higher than the general child population. These findings suggest that all children with IBS should also be screened for celiac disease.
The research is published in JAMA Pediatrics.