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April 8, 2004


Question from Asheville, North Carolina, USA:

What type of blood test is used to determine celiac disease? How common is it in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetics?


The screening blood tests available for assessing for celiac disease typically are those that measure antibody levels to a protein called tissue transglutaminase. Related screenings include antibody proteins to endomysium. Less specific are antibody levels to gluten.

Celiac disease is now estimated to co-exist with diabetes in about 5 to 10 percent. For a perspective, thyroid disease may occur in diabetes perhaps 20 percent of the time. I will note that I have seen varying statistics on this. I do not have data as to how often celiac disease is diagnosed at the time that type 1 diabetes is diagnosed. I have only seen celiac disease diagnosed at the same time as the new onset patient but once; in fact, the celiac disease was actually diagnosed by me just before the diabetes was discovered as the patient actually did not have symptoms of diabetes yet.