Celiac Sprue was once thought to be a rare pediatric disease. We now
know from blood donor studies that it is a common disease affecting as
many as 1 in 133 people in the U.S from a variety of ethnic groups.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the U.S. with this
disease are undiagnosed.
Also known as Celiac Disease, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or
non-tropical sprue, Celiac Sprue is a life-long intestinal disease
that is caused by the ingestion of gluten, a protein component of
wheat, rye, and barley. In genetically-susceptible people, gluten
triggers a series of immune-mediated events that leads to inflammation
and damage to the lining of the small intestine, preventing absorption
of critical nutrients.
Many Celiac patients do not receive any follow-up care, either
because they are unable to find a physician who is knowledgeable about
the disease or because they feel that they are doing well on their
own. Studies have shown, however, that a substantial proportion of
Celiacs are not in remission, even patients who are asymptomatic.
Therefore, we strongly advocate that Celiacs receive regular follow-up
care to monitor their disease activity and prevent complications. This
is also recommended by the National Institute of Health Celiac Sprue
Consensus Conference panel which met in June 2004.