Coeliac disease in The Netherlands.
Blomberg - van der Flier, B.M.E. von
Mesquita, HB Bueno-de
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BACKGROUND: The prevalence of adult coeliac disease in The Netherlands was studied in the Dutch Coeliac Disease Society and in blood donors but not in the general population. We therefore studied the prevalence of recognized and unrecognized coeliac disease in a large cohort, representative of the adult Dutch general population. Blood samples were available for anonymous research, as well as data on dietary habits, self-reported physical characteristics, health problems, quality of life and socio-economic circumstances. METHODS: Subjects included 50,760 individuals who had previously participated in two large population-based studies on health status in relation to lifestyle factors. Recognized coeliac disease was studied in all subjects by identification of self-reported adherence to a gluten-free diet and subsequent confirmation of the diagnosis of coeliac disease. Unrecognized coeliac disease was studied in a random sample of 1440 out of the 50,760 subjects through serologic screening and human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) typing. RESULTS: The prevalence of recognized coeliac disease was 0.016% (95% confidence interval 0.008-0.031) and of unrecognized coeliac disease 0.35% (95% confidence interval 0.15-0.81). Menarcheal age was higher in women with recognized coeliac disease than in women without coeliac disease. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of adult recognized coeliac disease in The Netherlands is one of the lowest in Europe, while the prevalence of unrecognized coeliac disease is comparable with that in other European countries. Adult coeliac disease is strongly under diagnosed in The Netherlands. The higher menarcheal age in women with recognized coeliac disease may be explained by diagnostic delay.