Fast and easy test can detect celiac disease in children

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Researchers in Granada, Spain, detected celiac disease in young children with minor or no symptoms, using a relatively non-invasive finger prick test.

“Currently, in order to diagnose celiac disease, three things are required: clinical symptomatology, the assessment of celiac disease antibodies present in blood, and a compatible histological study via intestinal biopsy.

The goal of the new research carried out by the University of Granada in Spain was to assess the prevalence of the silent celiac disease among children aged two to four.


For that purpose, the researchers used new devices which allowed to detect the disease markers (auto-antibodies) present in the patient’s capillary blood. “A puncture in the finger is enough to take a little drop of blood, which is then put in the device and, in case the subject suffers from the disease, a pink line will appear in the strip (just like in pregnancy tests),” researchers said.

A positive outcome of the test will require further confirmation via blood extraction and assessment of the disease antibodies via other methods, but a negative outcome will allow to dismiss, with certainty, being affected by the disease.

In a study testing the method, published in the journal Pediatric Research, researchers recruited 198 children between the ages of 2 and 4, all of whom presented nearly imperceptible symptoms, or none at all, to be tested using the finger-prick method.

Researchers detected 6 celiac children among the 198 who participated in the study (which means a very high prevalence of 3 per cent, higher than the European mean).

Researchers also said testing children early, regardless of symptoms, could prevent more expensive procedures and tests later, which they said is worth it because the finger-prick test takes about 10 minutes and costs less than $14.

“We have proven during our research, a negative outcome in the strip lowered the probability of suffering from celiac disease to zero, given its high negative predictive value,” the study, published in the journal Pediatric Research, said.

All of them presented no symptoms at all, or minor imperceptible symptoms which did not make their parents consult a pediatrician.

“This kind of diagnostic method in the family doctor’s or the pediatrician’s office would allow to find cases of celiac disease not diagnosed due to its atypical symptomatology, and to avoid unnecessary procedures, blood extractions or patient referral to specialized doctors,” said Maria Vega Almazán, a researcher at the University of Granada, in a press release.

Almazan also stressed:”It’s a novel research, given that there are few published works that use these devices in apparently healthy people,” “





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