MILAN, ITALY. Italian researchers report that celiac disease (sprue) is 20 times more common among children with type 1 diabetes than in the general population. They tested 274 children who had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and found that 10 of them (3.6 per cent) had celiac disease. During a four- year follow-up period an additional seven children developed the disease bringing the total to 17 children (6.2 per cent). The researchers point out that untreated celiac disease can lead to gastrointestinal cancers, autoimmune diseases, reduced fertility, osteoporosis, and neurological problems. They advocate that the disease be treated with a gluten-free diet even in the absence of symptoms in order to avoid complications. They also recommend that children with type 1 diabetes be screened when diagnosed and then annually for at least several years for the presence of celiac disease.
Barera, Graziano, et al. Occurrence of celiac disease after onset of type 1 diabetes: a 6-year prospective longitudinal study. Pediatrics, Vol. 109, May 2002, pp. 833-38