LAS VEGAS — Incidence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is approximately half that of celiac disease, according to data presented at the 2012 American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting.
“A growing number of patients are being found to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” Daniel V. DiGiacomo, MPH, research assistant at Columbia University, told Healio.com. “Unfortunately, there is not much clinical data, nor published studies, on non-celiac gluten sensitivity. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take an epidemiologic approach and study non-celiac gluten sensitivity on a national level.”
Researchers evaluated data from the Continuous National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2009 and 2010, which included 7,762 participants aged 6 years and older. The prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), defined as undertaking a gluten-free diet following the exclusion of celiac disease, was determined within this cohort, along with demographics and health status for those with the condition.
Forty-nine participants were diagnosed with NCGS. Investigators calculated a weighted national prevalence of 0.55% (95% CI, 0.21-0.89) for the condition — about half that of celiac disease. Patients with NCGS were older than those without (46.6 years compared with 40.5 years, P=.005), had lower BMI (25.8 vs. 27.5, P=.049) and smaller waist circumference (88.2 cm vs. 93.9 cm, P=.028)and trended toward higher HDL (63.5 mg/dL vs. 52.9 mg/dL, P=.054) and lower iron levels (77.2 mcg/dL vs. 87.5 mcg/dL, P=.136). Females had NCGS more frequently than males (0.58% vs. 0.37%; P=.336). Researchers noted, however, that this difference was closer to significance among patients aged 65 years or older (P=.153).
“Our study, albeit preliminary in its nature, depicts non-celiac gluten sensitivity as a disorder that is less common than celiac disease,” DiGiacomo said, adding that the results are preliminary due to sample size. “This is in contrast to prior expectations, that gluten sensitivity is several times more common than celiac disease. Overall, caution should be used, whether it is in the home or the doctor’s office, when deciding to partake in the gluten-free diet. Unless one is afflicted with a gluten-related disorder, this diet is most likely unnecessary, and may present with some potential long-term health risks if not followed properly.”
For more information:
DiGiacomo DV. P149: Prevalence and Characteristics of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity in the United States: Results from the Continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2010. Presented at: the 2012 American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting; Oct. 19-24, Las Vegas.