Kids newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes should be screened for coeliac disease

New research led by Maria Craig, a Professor of Paediatrics at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the University of Sydney, discovered a high prevalence of coeliac disease in the early stages of diabetes in young people. The link had been identified previously.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce insulin which can lead to being excessively thirsty, fatigue, blurred vision, mood swings and headaches. Coeliac disease occurs when the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten and symptoms can include bloating, gas, constipation and fatigue.

The results from the study showed that coeliac disease was present in 3.5% of children with type 1 diabetes. The average age of diagnoses of coeliac disease was 8.1 years old. Out of those with coeliac disease and type 1 diabetes, duration of diabetes at the diagnosis of coeliac disease was:

  • 31% within a year
  • 18% within one to two years
  • 23% within three to five years
  • 17% greater than five years

Children who had coeliac disease as well as type 1 diabetes were diagnosed at a younger average age (5.4 years) than the children with type 1 diabetes but not coeliac disease (7 years).

These new findings were collected from a total of 52,721 children around the world and support the recommendation for of screenings for coeliac disease in children and young people who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.