Relatives of Celiac Disease Patients Have Higher Risk for Type 1 Diabetes

People who have close relatives - either spouses or first-degree family members - with celiac disease are more likely to develop nonceliac autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes, according to a new study published by the American Gastroenterological Association.

It has long been established that relatives of celiac disease patients are more likely to develop the same condition, but little research has been done on the prevalence or risk of other autoimmune conditions.

The study concluded that one autoimmune condition could be linked to a higher risk for others in family members.

"This risk represents a mixture of genetic, environmental and ascertainment bias mechanisms," a press release on the study stated.

Spouses may also be at risk

The study included a nationwide, population-based cohort from the Swedish Multi-Generation Register, which represented more than 84,000 first-degree relatives - and the spouses - of people with celiac disease.

Results showed that, over a 10-year follow-up period, 4.3 percent of celiac relatives developed other autoimmune conditions - like type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis - compared with 3.3 percent of the control group patients.

Surprisingly, spouses of celiac patients also showed a higher risk for autoimmune conditions, which may be explained by environmental factors, the researchers said. It's possible too, they concluded, that family members of celiac patients may be more likely to seek out medical testing and care - which could explain the study results.

The study is published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Source: American Gastroenterological Association

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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