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Celiac Disease

Wide Celiac Testing Not Yet Supported

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made an effort to develop recommendations for celiac screening in the general population, but came up empty-handed.

“More evidence on screening for celiac disease is needed before the task force can recommend for or against screening people who don’t have any signs or symptoms of the condition,” a UFPSTF spokesperson said. “In the face of unclear evidence, doctors should use their clinical judgment when deciding whom to screen.”

The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of experts that makes evidence-based recommendations about preventive measures in health. This is the first time it has issued a statement on celiac screening.

In its draft guidelines, the USPSTF says there isn’t enough data showing a benefit to screening people without symptoms (who can still be at risk for celiac), nor is there enough data on the risks of tests such as intestinal biopsies. It says the evidence is also lacking on the effectiveness of screening in people who are at risk for celiac disease — for example, because of family history — but don’t show symptoms.

The American College of Gastroenterology currently recommends people without symptoms be considered for testing if they have a first-degree relative with the disease. The task force’s statement identifies specific areas where more research is needed, before it can make a proper recommendation.

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