Celiac Disease Facts
Celiac Disease Facts

41 Staggering Celiac Disease Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 30, 2018Updated August 12, 2019
  • Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food.[6]
  • Approximately 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease.[6]
  • On average, a person waits 6–10 years to be correctly diagnosed with celiac disease.[6]
  • Celiac disease has been linked to infertility, reduced bone density, some cancers, neurological disease, and other autoimmune diseases.[6]
  • Currently, there is no cure for celiac disease.[6]
  • Approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide has celiac disease.[6]
  • Celiac Disease Misdiagnosis
    The most common misdiagnoses include irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and ulcers
  • Nearly 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.[6]
  • Those who have a first degree relative (parent, offspring, sibling) with celiac disease have about a 1 in 10 chance of developing celiac disease.[6]
  • More children have celiac disease than have ulcerative colitis, Crohn's, and cystic fibrosis combined.[6]
  • An estimated 20% of people with celiac disease do not respond to a gluten-free diet.[6]
  • Millions of Americans have decided to pursue a gluten-free diet, often without seeking medical advice. The gluten-free market is making billions of dollars annually.[9]
  • Beginning a gluten-free diet before being diagnosed by a doctor can lead to misdiagnosis. To receive an accurate diagnosis, a person needs to be eating food containing gluten.[9]
  • Approximately 37% of women with celiac disease also show symptoms of depression.[3]
  • After I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I said yes to food, with great enthusiasm. . . . I vowed to taste everything I could eat, rather than focusing on what I could not.

    - Shauna James Ahern

  • Dutch pediatrician Willem K. Dicke, who treated children with celiac symptoms in the 1930s and '40s, noticed that his young patients improved during the bread shortages of WWII and relapsed when bread and cereal became abundant.[9]
  • The average age of celiac disease diagnosis is about 45.[9]
  • Like many autoimmune diseases, celiac disease is more often diagnosed in women than men.[9]
  • Non-gluten foods can be contaminated with gluten through contact with toasters, utensils, cutting boards, griddles, and containers—anything that has touched gluten products.[4]
  • Pregnant women with celiac disease are more likely to miscarry or give birth prematurely.[3]
  • Celiac Disease in Women
    Untreated celiac disease can lead to reproductive problems in women

  • Having Down syndrome or Turner syndrome increases the risk of celiac disease, though scientists are still unclear how they are connected.[9]
  • On a 2015 NSF survey, 90% of American respondents reported that they have heard of gluten, but over 65% were unable to correctly define it.[10]
  • While a gluten-free diet is healthier for those with gluten-related disorders, there is no evidence that it benefits those without these conditions.[5]
  • While celiac disease is genetic, for many people there needs to be an environmental trigger for the disease to develop. Such environmental triggers include an infection, physical injury, pregnancy, severe stress, or surgery.[9]
  • Coeliac Disease Facts
    Celiac disease can develop at any age
  • Celiac disease has over 200 symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, tingling, numbness in the legs, pale sores in the mouth, and a skin rash known as dermatitis herpetiformis.[11]
  • Approximately 49% of children who have celiac disease suffer from anxiety, including separation and social anxiety, pessimism, and excessive worrying.[3]
  • Unmanaged celiac disease can lead to early-onset osteoporosis and osteopenia.[7]
  • Those who suffer from celiac disease report a higher negative impact on their quality of life than people with Type 2-diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, or inflammatory bowel disease.[3]
  • Celiac disease can lead to pancreatic insufficiency and gallbladder malfunction.[7]
  • Because celiac disease interferes with mineral absorption, patients can suffer from deficiencies of iron, fiber, zinc, calcium, folate, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, copper, niacin, and vitamin B-6.[7]
  • Gluten isn't just in bread; it's also in beverages, such as beer and malt beverages. However, most distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten-free.[7]
  • Celiac disease is more prevalent in places where wheat consumption is high, such as Europe, the Americas, and Australia.[9]
  • Leaky Gut Facts
    Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body reacts to gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—as if it were a toxin

  • Women with unexplained infertility are 6 times more likely to have celiac disease.[3]
  • Celiacs report higher rates of depression and anxiety than those without the disease.[1]
  • Some researchers believe that because our current environment is so sanitary, the balance between microbes and the human immune system has been thrown out of balance, which increases autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease.[6]
  • Researchers have found that celiac disease is slightly more common among individuals who were delivered by Cesarean section.[9]
  • Celiac disease can cause stunted growth in children.[9]
  • The older a person is when diagnosed with celiac disease, the more likely they will develop an additional autoimmune disorder.[6]
  • Celiac Disease History
    The Greek physician Aretaeus was the first to describe celiac disease: "If the stomach be irretentive of the food and if it pass through undigested and crude, and nothing ascends into the body, we call such persons coeliacs."
  • The Greek physician Aretaeus described the first account of celiac disease. He coined the term koiliakos, after the Greek word for abdomen, which translated to English as "celiac." He described patients as those whose food passes through them "undigested."[9]
  • Celiac disease has increased 9.8% per year over the past 60 years worldwide.[6]
  • Celiacs suffer from headaches and migraines at a rate far higher than the general population.[1]
  • While celiac disease can be found worldwide, the genes associated with celiac disease originated in Northern Europe.[8]
  • Teens who have celiac disease are more likely to suffer from depression, disruptive behavior (such as ADD), and oppositional defiant disorder. Researchers speculate that malnutrition caused by celiac disease may play a role.[2]
  • Important Celiac Disease Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Celiac Disease Infographic

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