'Silent Celiac Disease' Now Diagnoseable In Children Through Non-Invasive Method [Photo byOli Scarff/Getty Images]

‘Silent Celiac Disease’ Now Diagnoseable In Children Through Non-Invasive Method

Many people suffering from celiac disease, or gluten allergy, are not aware of their condition until later in life. This is mainly because of increased awareness about the condition. But another reason why diagnosis comes later in life is because symptoms are generally minimal in children who haven’t yet reached the age in which they can communicate how they feel effectively.

Quite often, celiac disease is labeled as a trend. People with the disease are forced to limit their diet to strictly gluten free foods in order to stay healthy and pain-free. Gluten free diets have been a fad for years on the false basis that it is healthy or can aid in weight-loss, whether or not a doctor actually assesses an individual for the disease. But diagnosis can be invasive and time consuming, leaving many people to opt out of consulting a physician.

Luckily, a new method of diagnosing celiac disease will soon be available in which simple, non-invasive tests can tell whether not a child suffers from the disease in even the most subtle form.

Developed by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR), the method is quick, economic, and doesn’t require special knowledge; although, a licensed health practitioner would be needed to interpret the results. Celiac disease is generally diagnosed through blood tests or through process of elimination. But this new test requires none of that.

The author of the study, partially published in Pediatric Research Medicine, explains, “the idea of carrying out this research came from the need of responding to a question that I have considered when giving daily clinical care: is there any silent prevalence of the celiac disease in our field of specialization?”

What is silent celiac disease? This is the same disease adults suffer from; however, the patient is younger and has only minor symptoms that are not yet perceivable to the doctor or the patient. Celiac disease is an inability of the body to digest a protein found in various forms of grain, such as wheat, barley, and rye. The protein creates an irritation in the bowel. It can cause severe abdominal pain, as well as several other unexpected symptoms. The Celiac Disease Foundation describes the condition as follows.

“An autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”

Catching the disease at an early age is paramount to curbing the effects of complications that can occur later on down the road.

“These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.”

About one in 100 people are effected by celiac disease, but the number of children affected by gluten is not known.

“A puncture in the finger is enough to take a little drop of blood, which is then put in the device and, in case the subject suffers from the disease, a pink line will appear in the strip (just like in pregnancy tests). Said pink line means that there are auto-antibodies characteristic to the celiac disease present in blood.”

The study is thought to be highly reliable by researchers in 198 children examined with the new method. It isn’t a large study sample, but the results are somewhat representative of the number of adults with celiac disease. The new method discovered a gluten allergy in 3 percent of the children in the study group. Those six patients were then examined by endoscopy and biopsy procedures and the results were confirmed.

The press release does not confirm as to when the new method of celiac detection will be available to doctors and the general public, but this is huge in field improving the lives of children and adults who experience health complications. It is especially useful to those lacking in health care funds and time, since the procedure only takes about ten minutes and costs around $10.

[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]