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Researchers analyzed dozens of studies published between 1978 and 2019 that included tens of millions of people in Europe, North America and Asia.
"Clinicians have always suspected that IBD and celiac disease may be linked, however a clear association was never established," said first author Dr. Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez. She's a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
"This is important, as failure to diagnose one or the other condition could compromise proper response to available treatments," Pinto-Sanchez said in a university news release. "It also raises questions on screening for the other disease in a patient already diagnosed with either IBD or celiac disease."
IBD and celiac disease are chronic intestinal conditions that share similar risk factors. The exact cause of IBD (which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) isn't known, but infections and genes are factors. People with celiac disease -- an immune system disorder -- can't eat foods containing gluten.
The next step is to determine whether testing for the diseases is cost-effective and benefits patients, according to the authors.
"At this time, it is unclear whether screening of IBD should be performed in celiac disease and vice versa," said study co-author Dr. Elena Verdu, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at McMaster.
"More studies into the association of IBD and celiac disease are needed, as this could lead to screening and therapeutic interventions to improve patient outcomes," Verdu said in the release.
The findings were recently published in the journal Gastroenterology.
-- Robert Preidt
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