Should we screen everyone for celiac disease?

uspstfThe US Preventive Services Task Force recently reviewed all the relevant research on screening for celiac disease to determine if it makes economic or health sense to screen everyone for the disease. They looked at the accuracy of the screening tests for people of all ages and debated the potential benefit and harm from screening.

The conclusion: there isn’t enough information to make a well-supported decision. There are too many false positive tests to make universal screening appropriate, and we don’t know enough about the benefits and harms of a gluten-free diet on someone with positive blood tests but no symptoms.

They did conclude that it is important to test people with celiac-related symptoms and they defined celiac disease as “a multi-system autoimmune disorder which can have both gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss) and systemic symptoms (anemia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and ataxia), both of which are improved by following a gluten-free diet”.

That definition of CD alone may remind family doctors that celiac disease is a lot more than just diarrhea. We need to take victories where they come.

Leave a Reply