A recent study (A Butwicka et al. J Pediatr 2017; 184: 87-93) describes an increased rate of childhood psychiatric disorders among children with celiac disease (CD).
The authors used a nationwide registry (in Sweden) with 10,903 children with celiac disease, 12,710 siblings, and more than 1 million control patients. The median age at diagnosis was 3 years and median duration of followup was 9.6 years.
- CD patients had a 1.4 fold greater risk of psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, and ADHD.
- CD siblings did not have an increased risk.
- 7.7% of children with CD were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder
Limitation: The actual reported incidence of psychiatric disorders seems low in both the CD patients and controls. It is possible that some of the difference could be related to selection bias. Patients with (undiagnosed) psychiatric disorders may be more likely to be anxious, and seek out medical attention for their GI complaints; this could precede a diagnosis of CD.
Strengths: This study has large numbers of patients and the data was prospectively obtained.
The association with increased psychiatric problems could have a biologic basis or be related to the toll of chronic gastrointestinal symptoms prior to diagnosis and the difficulty of managing CD.
My take: This is an intriguing study and suggests that patients with CD are more likely to be diagnosed with a psychological disorder. Whether CD itself or the preceding symptoms trigger this diagnosis is uncertain.
Related blog posts:
- Something You Probably Have Not Seen with Celiac Disease and Headaches
- Celiac disease and diabetes This link has information on psychological problems noted in the TEDDY study.