Prevalence and Morbidity of Undiagnosed Celiac Disease From a Community-Based Study

Rok Seon Choung, Scott A. Larson, Shahryar Khaleghi, Alberto Rubio-Tapia, Inna G. Ovsyannikova, Katherine S. King, Joseph J. Larson, Brian D. Lahr, Gregory A. Poland, Michael J. Camilleri, Joseph A. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background & Aims Little is known about the prevalence and burden of undiagnosed celiac disease in individuals younger than age 50. We determined the prevalence and morbidity of undiagnosed celiac disease in individuals younger than age 50 in a community. Methods We tested sera from 31,255 residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota (<50 y), without a prior diagnosis of celiac disease assay using an assay for IgA against tissue transglutaminase; in subjects with positive test results, celiac disease was confirmed using an assay for endomysial IgA. We performed a nested case–control study to compare the proportion of comorbidities between undiagnosed cases of celiac disease and age- and sex-matched seronegative controls (1:2). Medical records were abstracted to identify potential comorbidities. Results We identified 338 of 30,425 adults with positive results from both serologic tests. Based on this finding, we estimated the prevalence of celiac disease to be 1.1% (95% confidence interval, 1.0%–1.2%); 8 of 830 children tested positive for IgA against tissue transglutaminase (1.0%; 95% confidence interval, 0.4%–1.9%). No typical symptoms or classic consequences of diagnosed celiac disease (diarrhea, anemia, or fracture) were associated with undiagnosed celiac disease. Undiagnosed celiac disease was associated with increased rates of hypothyroidism (odds ratio, 2.2; P < .01) and a lower than average cholesterol level (P = .03) and ferritin level (P = .01). During a median follow-up period of 6.3 years, the cumulative incidence of a subsequent diagnosis with celiac disease at 5 years after testing was 10.8% in persons with undiagnosed celiac disease vs 0.1% in seronegative persons (P < .01). Celiac disease status was not associated with overall survival. Conclusions Based on serologic tests of a community population for celiac disease, we estimated the prevalence of undiagnosed celiac disease to be 1.1%. Undiagnosed celiac disease appeared to be clinically silent and remained undetected, but long-term outcomes have not been determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)830-839.e5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Epidemiology
  • Mortality
  • Small Intestine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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