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Chapter 1: The Epidemiology of Celiac Disease

Carlo Catassi, Department of Pediatrics, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy and also Center For Celiac Research, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States; Surender Kumar Yachha, Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India

The Science of Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages
Pages 1-11
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1094/9781891127670.001
ISBN: 978-1-891127-67-0


Celiac disease (CD) is one of the most common lifelong disorders in countries populated by individuals of European origin, affecting approximately 1% of the general population. CD is also a common disease in North Africa, the Middle East, and India. The huge prevalence of CD in the Saharawi people (5.6%) is probably related to their strong genetic predisposition and abrupt dietary change during the last centuries. In developing countries, CD is sometimes a severe disease, characterized by chronic diarrhea, stunting, anemia, and increased mortality. Further studies are needed to quantify the incidence of CD in apparently “celiac-free” areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Far East. In many developing countries, the frequency of CD is likely to increase in the near future, given the diffuse tendency to adopt Western, gluten-rich diets. Because most cases escape diagnosis all over the world, an effort should be made to increase the awareness of CD polymorphism. A cost-effective case-finding policy could significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with untreated disease.