Celiac disease, which results from a sensitivity to gluten, was associated with a 2.5-fold increased risk of neuropathy (nerve damage), according to an article published online by JAMA Neurology.
Celiac disease is common in the general population with an estimated prevalence of 1 percent. The association between celiac disease and neuropathy was first reported nearly 50 years ago, according to the study background.
Jonas F. Ludvigsson, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and coauthors examined the risk of developing neuropathy in a nationwide sample of patients in Sweden with biopsy-certified celiac disease.
The authors collected data on small-intestine biopsies performed between June 1969 and February 2008 to compare the risk of neuropathy in 28,232 individuals with celiac disease with that of 139,473 individuals in a control group.
The study identified 198 individuals with celiac disease and a later diagnosis of neuropathy (0.7 percent) compared with 359 control participants (0.3 percent) with a later diagnosis of neuropathy. The absolute risks of developing neuropathy were 64 per 100,000 person-years in patients with celiac disease and 15 per 100,000 person-years in the control group. Overall, there were no differences between men and women in risk of neuropathy in patients with celiac disease.
"We found an increased risk of neuropathy in patients with CD [celiac disease] that persists after CD diagnosis. Although absolute risks for neuropathy are low, CD is a potentially treatable condition with a young age of onset. Our findings suggest that screening could be beneficial in patients with neuropathy," the study concludes.
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