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Coeliac disease and anaemia

Although coeliac disease had been thought to be a rare disease, essentially of Europeans, recent studies suggest that it is one of the most frequent genetically-based diseases occurring worldwide. Iron deficiency (or anaemia) could often be the only obvious symptom of the disease thereby delaying a diagnosis of coeliac disease.

A study reported in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in December looked at the prevalence of coeliac disease in over 4,000 patients with iron deficiency, 206 of whose deficiency was ‘of obscure origin’. Further investigation indicated that there is a high prevalence of coeliac disease in patients with iron deficiency ‘of obscure origin’ and that a gluten-free diet can improve anaemia in patients with relatively mild coeliac disease.

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