The Impact of Thyroid Autoimmunity on Thyroid Function in 12-year-old Children With Celiac Disease

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Abstract

Objectives:

Celiac disease (CD) is associated with thyroid autoimmunity and other autoimmune diseases. However, data are lacking regarding the relationship between thyroid autoimmunity and thyroid function, especially in regard to CD. Our aim was to investigate the impact of thyroid autoimmunity on thyroid function in 12-year-old children with CD compared to their healthy peers.

Methods:

A case-referent study was conducted as part of a CD screening of 12-year-olds. Our study included 335 children with CD and 1,695 randomly selected referents. Thyroid autoimmunity was assessed with antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPOAb). Thyroid function was assessed with thyroid stimulating hormone and free thyroxine.

Results:

TPOAb positivity significantly increased the risk of developing hypothyroidism in all children. The odds ratios (with 95% confidence intervals) were: 5.3 (2.7–11) in healthy 12-year-olds, 10 (3.2–32) in screening-detected CD cases, 19 (2.6–135) in previously diagnosed CD cases, and 12 (4.4–32) in all CD cases together. Among children with TPOAb positivity, hypothyroidism was significantly more common (odds ratio 3.1; 95% CI 1.03–9.6) in children with CD (10/19) than in children without CD (12/46).

Conclusions:

The risk of thyroid dysfunction due to thyroid autoimmunity is larger for those with CD than their healthy peers. Our study indicate that a gluten-free diet does not reduce the risk of thyroid dysfunction. Further studies are required for improved understanding of the role of the gluten-free diet for the risk of autoimmune diseases in children with CD.

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