Digestive disorder reaches record levels in Scots children

September 17, 2013

More children than ever before are living with a debilitating digestive disease, research has shown.

Scientists have found that affects six times more living in Scotland now than it did in 1990.

A team from the University of Edinburgh and Queen Margaret University analysed the of children from South East Scotland aged under 16 years who were newly diagnosed with the condition between 1990 and 2009.

The team – based at Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh – found that the rate of children being newly diagnosed with Coeliac disease rose from 1.7 in every 100,000 children in 1990-1994 to 11.8 per 100,000 children in 2005-2009.

Coeliac disease only affects those who carry the gene for the condition. It is triggered by what doctors call an 'infective hit' – often a viral infection such as – causing the immune system to attack the lining of the .

Such damage can cause symptoms such as weight loss, abdominal pain and stunted growth, although doctors say that in many older children and adults, recurrent abdominal pain may be the only symptom.

At its most serious, Coeliac disease may cause children to become malnourished. Experts say that the driving force of the condition is a reaction to foods that contain gluten – including wheat, barley and rye cereals.

The Edinburgh team adds that while it does not yet know what is responsible for the rise in Coeliac disease cases, there are a number of possible explanations.

Factors could include changing patterns of childhood infection because of on-going improvements in healthcare as well as an increase in the incidence of related – including Coeliac disease and Type I diabetes.

Researchers say that while the trend could reflect a growth in awareness of the condition, they have also seen a rise in the number of classical – more severe cases – which are more likely to affect younger children.

Dr Peter Gillett, of the University of Edinburgh's Department of Child Life and Health and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, who led the study, said: "This study confirms a trend we have seen on a daily basis in our local area of Lothian, Fife and Borders. It also confirms the need to look further at factors influencing why we are seeing more patients with Coeliac disease– it is not only because people are more aware of the disease nor is it thanks to our improved tests.

"Although the number of patients that we are diagnosing with the disease is increasing, it is well short of the number of cases out there, as screening the general population would pick up around one in 100 people.

"The increase in pick-up has implications for families and the support from healthcare they require to maintain a strict lifelong gluten free lifestyle once the diagnosis is made."

Explore further: New approach to celiac testing identifies more Australians at risk

More information: The research is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Related Stories

New approach to celiac testing identifies more Australians at risk

August 27, 2013
Australian researchers have developed a new approach to detecting coeliac disease, revealing this immune disorder is far more common than previously recognised.

Research gives new insight into coeliac disease

October 11, 2012
For the first time, scientists have visualised an interaction between gluten and T-cells of the immune system, providing insight into how coeliac disease, which affects approximately 1 in 133 people, is triggered.

Celiac disease vaccine shows promising results in Phase I trial

May 9, 2011
The world's first potential vaccine for coeliac disease has shown promising results for treating coeliac disease in a Phase I clinical trial and is expected to move to Phase II trials within the next year.

Recommended for you

Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect, study estimates

July 24, 2017
Small reductions in childhood measles vaccinations in the United States would produce disproportionately large increases in the number of measles cases and in related public health costs, according to a new study by researchers ...

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

knutsonp
not rated yet Sep 17, 2013
There is a relationship between coeliac (celiac) disease and ASD (autism). ASD has also been increasingly diagnosed through the past few years....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.