Back in the fall I got all excited because there was a new and improved blood test for celiac disease. Way less invasive than an endoscopy (although many of you wrote in to say endoscopies really aren’t so bad).

Of course, that was then. Ready for the next big thing? Stick out your tongue and say ahhh.


Well, something like that. Science is heading in the direction of a saliva test for celiac disease.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition (and covered on shows extremely promising results of an Italian study.

In the study, the saliva of slightly more than 4,000 children was tested. Children whose samples came back positive were given a blood test. If the blood test came back positive, they were tested via endoscopy and biopsy.

The statistics are pretty amazing:

  • 4,048 children gave usable saliva samples.
  • 32 of them tested positive and were given the blood test.
    • 31 of these children tested positive again and were subject to endoscopy and biopsy.
    • 28 of these children showed villous atrophy and one had Marsh 1 lesions (a potential indicator of atrophy to come).
  • A further 9 children showed borderline symptoms via saliva.
    • 3 of these had positive blood tests.
  • The overall rate of celiac disease in the sample was 1.16%, in keeping with generally accepted estimates of the disease’s popularity.
  • The rate of symptomatic to asymptomatic children was 1:1.16 – showing that approximately half of the children with celiac disease had no obvious health concerns.

It’s not too surprising that this study comes from Italy, land of mandatory celiac testing for children. Kudos to them for working to make screening even easier; I look forward to the day when testing is mandatory in the US as well, and requires nothing more invasive than a cotton swab.

What developments are you looking forward to in the science-of-celiac?