Screening for Celiac Disease

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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

In the United States, children are generally not screened for celiac disease. In countries where celiac disease is more common, children are routinely screened for the disease. For example, in Italy, children are screened for celiac disease by age six. The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research recommends the following:

  • If someone in your family is known to have celiac disease, you should be screened for it. Doing so can help avoid the complications that can result from not treating the disease.
  • If you suffer from celiac disease, you should be tested for nutritional deficiencies. In some cases, testing for bone density may also be necessary.

Screening for celiac disease involves testing for the antibodies to gluten. This is done by testing a blood sample for three specific antibodies: antigliadin, anti-endomysium, and antireticulin.

There is a test available that may eventually become the test used to screen large populations. It is a blood test that detects an antigen called tissue transglutaminase (tTG).

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 01/15/2013 -
  • American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org. Accessed March 9, 2006.

  • American Gastroenterologic Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org. Accessed March 9, 2006.

  • The Merck Manual of Medical Information.17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.

  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov. Accessed March 9, 2006.