Dr. Shikha T Malik
New Delhi: A new study has indicated that celiac disease and Type I diabetes may co-exist in Indian children due to similar genetic factors underlying the two disorders. Based on this observation, scientists have suggested screening of children for diabetes and for sensitivity to gluten-containing food like wheat to prevent long-term complications.
The study conducted by leading children’s hospital in the national capital has found higher prevalence of celiac disease in children suffering from type I diabetes. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which body’s defense mechanisms start attacking its own cells. This makes the person intolerant to gluten – proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other foodgrains. Those suffering have to maintain gluten-free diet for life to prevent complications. In type 1 diabetes, the body produces insufficient amount of insulin which leads to high blood glucose levels and other manifestations at a later stage.
Scientists attribute coexistence of the two disorders to similar genetic causation. Data shows the prevalence of celiac in general population to be about 1% but it ranges between 5-7%in patients suffering from type I diabetes. There is geographical variation in the prevalence of the celiac disease.
Researchers led by Dr. Anju Seth at the Department of Pediatrics, Lady Hardinge Medical College took a retrospective look at samples collected during January 2006 and May 2014 to assess the co-existence of the two disorders in children.They reviewed records of 126 children and adolescents – both boys and girls. Using biochemical assays like antibody detection and biopsies, they found that 13.5% children with type I diabetes were also suffering from celiac disease. They also observed in these children thyroiditis, another autoimmune disorder which affects the thyroid gland that produces hormones regulating growth and development.
In view of these findings, the researchers suggest that it is very important to screen for celiac disease in the early years of detection of diabetes in patients. Alarming symptoms could be sudden changes in blood glucose levels and reduced growth. Failure to do so would increase the risk of type I diabetes patients to growth retardation, infertility, and gastrointestinal lymphoma (cancer of the gut). Further, they speculate that diabetic kids with undetected celiac disease having continuous exposure to gluten-containing food have a higher chance of developing other autoimmune diseases.
(India Science Wire)
Author’s Twitter handle: @stm_science; The study, published in Indian Journal of Medical Research, was conducted by Preeti Singh, Anju Seth, Praveen Kumar and Sushma Sajjan at the Department of Pediatrics, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi.