The Prevalence of Celiac Disease In At-Risk Groups of Children In the United States

Celiac disease is a genetic disease that is a severe form of gluten intolerance that results in intestinal complications. Gluten is the major allergy protein in wheat, spelt, barley, rye and oats. A study has suggested that celiac disease is far more prevalent in the United States than previously believed.

Previous studies have shown that about 1 in 250 people in Europe had the condition, but it was thought to affect fewer individuals, about 1 in 5,000 in the United States. This study screened 1200 children aged 6 months to 20 years with blood tests and, in some cases, small intestinal biopsy. The researchers reported that the prevalence of celiac disease in these patients ranged from 1 in 57 to 1 in 33.

Journal of Pediatrics January 2000 136:86-90

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

This study is VERY IMPORTANT! Most all physicians are clueless as to how common a problem wheat intolerance is. This study shows that by current traditional diagnostic methods as many as 1 in 33 people who exhibit symptoms could have this disease. This is a far cry from 1 in 5000, which is why most doctors don't consider this.

Because celiac disease has been considered rare in this country, it often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance. My experience is that the true incidence is probably much higher still, perhaps on the order of 1 in 10 people. The bulk of us however, do NOT benefit from having wheat.

It is one of the primary reasons why people get sick in this country. It is amazing how many people's chronic health complaints clear up once they stop the wheat. Some clinicians believe that no one can digest a protein in wheat called gliaden.

Our body attempts to break this protein down by attaching an enzyme to it. This gliaden enzyme complex in a high percentage of people actually stimulates an autoimmune reaction that can cause the full blown syndrome of celiac disease, or more commonly sub clinical celiac disease which is generally characterized by a variety of chronic health complaints, most of which are intestinal.

However, I have seen many rashes disappear within days, once gluten was stopped.

So, the moral of the story, is that if you have a chronic health complaint try avoiding gluten for two weeks and see if you improve. That approach is certainly far less expensive and more accurate than any diagnostic technique currently available.

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