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Conditions linked to coeliac disease

There are a number of different conditions associated with coeliac disease, from other autoimmune conditions to complications like osteoporosis. 

Autoimmune disorders

Coeliac disease itself is an autoimmune disease and people with coeliac disease have genes that predispose them to the condition, so if you have one autoimmune condition, there is an increased risk of having another one. Coeliac disease is more common in people with Type 1 diabetes and autoimmune thyroid disease.

It has been suggested that the chance of developing other autoimmune disorders is increased when diagnosis of coeliac disease is delayed. This may be because of the exposure to gluten before going onto a gluten free diet.

Type 1 diabetes

Coeliac disease and Type 1 diabetes are both autoimmune conditions. People with Type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of having coeliac disease. Between 4 and 9% of people with Type 1 diabetes also have coeliac disease, compared with 1% in the general population. More information on coeliac disease and Type 1 diabetes.

Autoimmune thyroid disease

People with autoimmune thyroid disease are at a higher risk of having coeliac disease. The chance is between 1 - 4% compared with 1% in the general population. More information on autoimmune thyroid disease.

Other autoimmune disorders

The NICE (2015) guideline for the ‘Recognition, assessment and management of coeliac disease’ has reviewed the research evidence regarding coeliac disease and possible related conditions and recommends who should be screened for coeliac disease. There are many other autoimmune conditions not listed by NICE which may be linked to coeliac disease. There is research continuing to explore coeliac disease and possible related conditions.

Down's and Turner Syndrome

NICE also recommends that testing for coeliac disease is considered in people with Down's syndrome and Turner syndrome.

Down’s syndrome

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features. Coeliac disease is more common in people with Down’s syndrome.

Turner syndrome

Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder that only affects females. It is associated with a wide range of symptoms and some distinctive characteristics. Coeliac disease is more common in people with Turner syndrome.

Osteoporosis

osteoUndiagnosed and untreated coeliac disease may lead to developing osteoporosis, which is where the bones become thin and brittle. This is because you may not have been absorbing calcium properly for some time. Find out more about osteoporosis

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance can be associated with coeliac disease as the disease damages the part of the gut where lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, is produced. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are similar to that of coeliac disease. Find out more

Lymphoma and small bowel cancer

Lymphoma and small bowel cancer is a serious complication of coeliac disease. However, once someone with coeliac disease has been following the gluten free diet for three to five years, their risk of developing these specific types of cancers is no greater than that of the general population.

Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them.

Although there is currently not enough evidence to recommend the use of a gluten free diet and casein free diet as a treatment for ASD,  the most commonly requested dietary intervention in ASD is a gluten free and casein free diet.

If you’re unsure about whether you should be tested for coeliac disease, take the Coeliac UK online assessment for coeliac disease. This short questionnaire will take you through the symptoms of coeliac disease and other risk factors and makes a recommendation on whether or not you should ask your GP for a blood test. Take the online assessment now.

Fertility

There is no extra risk of infertility problems for most women with coeliac disease who are following a gluten free diet. However, undiagnosed or untreated coeliac disease may be an underlying cause in cases of unexplained infertility. So when testing for coeliac disease, this should be considered.