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Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the gastrointestinal tract is hypersensitive to gluten, a component of wheat, rye and barley. It causes abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, change in bowel habit, headaches, rashes, malnutrition, anemia, osteoporosis, growth restriction in children, weight loss and pregnancy complications. The symptoms and complications are due to the small, finger-like projections, called villi, of the intestine being killed off by the body's immune system. A recent survey detected that out of a population of 13,000 people who had their blood analyzed, 1 in 133 were diagnosed with the disease. Celiac disease is often misdiagnosed, but can be easily detected with a blood test followed up with tissue samples taken via endoscopy. It runs in families, but requires a diet that includes gluten to expose the disease, therefore the treatment is to avoid all foodstuffs that contain this irritant, such as bread, biscuits, cakes, and pasta. Specialists also recommend breast feeding while food is being introduced to infants. Studies are currently underway to further understand the disease process so that a vaccine might be produced.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by Knight Ridder Newspapers
About: Celiac disease more common than thought
Date: 10 January 2006
Source: Knight Ridder Newspapers
Author: Susan Fitzgerald
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