Diagnosing the Littlest Celiacs Requires Specific Blood Tests

As anyone who has been diagnosed with celiac disease (or anyone whose loved ones have been diagnosed) knows, the process from symptoms to diagnosis can be laborious. Once you find a doctor to connect the dots, though, you still need to get the right blood tests (and sometimes an endoscopy) to confirm that gluten is the culprit.

Specific blood tests are better for diagnosing babies with celiac disease. Jury's still out on the puppies though.

New research out of Europe indicates that the age of the patient plays a significant role in determining which tests to use: children under two years old, they found, require different tests than older children and adults.

The researchers, affiliated with a number of hospitals and universities in Germany, Belgium, Austria, and the Netherlands, examined 184 children of up to two years old. Of the 184, 42 had celiac disease but were not following a gluten-free diet, and 142 were a control group.

Blood samples were taken and testsed for a variety of antibodies: IgA- and IgG-anti0dGli, IgA- and IgG-anti-nGli, IgA- and IgG-anti-tTG, and IGA-EmA (Wondering what these are? Pop over to the Celiac Disease Foundation for a list of recommended blood tests for diagnosing celiac disease).

The researchers were looking at the results for a number of measures, which boil down, generally, to:

  • sensitivity (essentially the percent of positives that were correct)
  • specificity (essentially the percent of negatives that were correct)

Of the  range of tests, only those for IgG-anti-dGli, IgA-anti-tTG, and IgA-EmA were sufficiently sensitive, specific, and precise.

What this boils down to is that parents or guardians who are bringing a very young child for blood tests may want to skip the anti-nGli tests altogether.

To read the abstract of the study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, visit Pubmed. Or for celiac.com’s take on the study, have a gander here.

If you’ve been through the process of diagnosing an infant or young toddler with celiac disease, what steps did you have to take? What blood tests were run, and if you ran the anti-nGli test did the results seem out of sync with the others?

3 thoughts on “Diagnosing the Littlest Celiacs Requires Specific Blood Tests”

  1. We have both celiacs and gluten intolerant people in our family. We had our 6 year old tested twice but even with negative results I was still concerned. So we had her genetically tested last year through enterolab.com and she tested negative for celiac but positive for possible non-celiac gluten sensitivity. We had our newborn baby tested the same way this year before we began giving her table food. She tested the same as her big sister.
    I have to tell you that it was so helpful! Knowing that it is not celiac means that if either of them ever show symptoms, we won’t “waste time” on blood tests and biopsies but head straight to a GF diet to see if it helps. The genetic testing answered questions for us and saved us from running back to the doctor every time we see a possible celiac symptom.

  2. We should ALL go gluten free so we can lower the price of gluten free food it is too expensive and once you go gluten free theres no going back it’s the best when you find your foods .

  3. The great definitive person on GF children, may be Dr. Rodney Ford, pediatrician out of New Zealand. He has an extensive background. Has a e-book on Smashwords. http://www.DrRodneyFord.com. I have seen him speak in Ca Bay Area and spoken with him. So,so aware of the GF struggles.
    He also has a quarterly e-newsletter.
    I like all your reports and variety.
    Thanks, Y

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