Prevalence of Metabolic Bone Disease in Children With Celiac Disease Is Independent of Symptoms at Diagnosis

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Abstract

Objectives:

Given dietary gluten exposure, growing children with celiac disease may experience malabsorption of nutrients, negatively affecting bone health. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of low bone mass in children with celiac disease, according to the presence of symptoms at diagnosis.

Materials and Methods:

A retrospective chart review of the Stollery Children's Hospital Celiac Clinic charts (April 1989–September 2007) was conducted. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the spine was measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Demographics, symptoms at presentation, and anthropometric and biochemical data relevant to bone health were recorded.

Results:

Seventy-four children (9.6 ± 3.7 years; range 3.3–16.0 years) were included. Lumbar BMD z scores more than or equal to −1 were observed in 58 cases (65%), z scores below −1 but above −2 were observed in 14 cases (19%) and z scores less than or equal to −2 were observed in 12 cases (16%). There was no significant difference in mean lumbar BMD z scores between symptomatic and asymptomatic children (P = 0.34). When adjusted for bone age and bone surface area, BMD lumbar z score was inversely correlated with age at diagnosis (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

An equivalent reduction in spine bone mass was observed in children with celiac disease at diagnosis regardless of the presence of symptoms. Delayed diagnosis of children with celiac disease may increase the risk of adult osteoporosis. Appropriate screening of children at risk of celiac disease for the purpose of early diagnosis, as well as routine evaluation of bone mineral density in such children, are important to prevent long-term complications associated with poor bone health.

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