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Background: An association between Down syndrome and celiac disease has been reported. This study was conducted to determine the association between childhood celiac disease and Down syndrome in the county of Uppsala, Sweden.

Methods: All 76 children with Down syndrome (1-18 years) were screened for the occurrence of anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) and anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA). Twelve children with suspected celiac disease were investigated further.

Results: Increased levels of both IgA and IgG AGA were found in 26% of the children and of EMA in and 5 of 76. Celiac disease was diagnosed in at least three of the children (3.9%; 95% confidence interval 0%-8.3%), and it could have been present in as many as eight. Three of the five EMA-positive children with suspected celiac disease had the HLA phenotype DR3, DQ2.

Conclusions: The results show that determination of EMA is more useful as a screening test for celiac disease and for follow-up than is AGA in children with Down syndrome. The present study also confirms that celiac disease is overrepresented among Swedish children with Down syndrome and that celiac disease should be considered in all persons with Down syndrome.

(C) 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.