Epidemiology of Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten-Related Disorders

A. Salvador Peña, Luis Rodrigo


The epidemiology of celiac disease and Non-Celiac Gluten related disorders is still an open field to be explored. Not many studies have been conducted in well-defined populations. We have reviewed the prevalence reported in studies using different methodology and addressed the findings obtained in old and new areas with the aim to increase awareness of the frequency of these disorders. The data available suggest the need to plan further proper epidemiological studies in order to understand the natural history of the disease and to assess the burden of these diseases on health systems.

Celiac disease has a global distribution. In childhood celiac disease, epidemiological studies have concentrated so far mainly on the determination of the incidence. There is a relative homogeneous prevalence in descendants of the Caucasian race. However, heterogeneity exists in various countries and continents. In some countries studies in blood donors have contributed to raise awareness of celiac disease and are the only information available.

The average prevalence in the United States of celiac disease is very similar to the one observed in Europe. The highest prevalence was found in the Saharawi population and the lowest in Japan. Recent reports have confirmed the occurrence of celiac disease in China and Central America, countries where previously it was considered that gluten-related disorders were nonexistent.

We reviewed the almost non-existent epidemiology of non-celiac gluten related disorders. The worldwide epidemiology of dermatitis herpetiformis suggests stronger heterogeneity than the observed in celiac disease. The incidence of allergy and autoimmune disease in the U.S.A. and other industrialized nations is increasing. Gluten-related disorders are no exception.

We expect that an improved knowledge of the worldwide distribution of gluten-related disorders will help us to understand the role of different genetic factors and different environmental influences involved in the pathogenesis of these diseases. At a public level the epidemiological studies are necessary to assess the impact on health systems in the different countries.

Palabras clave

Epidemiology, Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten-Related Disorders, dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten ataxia, prevalence, incidence

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