Alternate Names : Celiac Sprue, Nontropical Sprue, Sprue, Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy, Gluten Intolerance
Celiac disease is a malabsorption syndrome. The intestine is not able to absorb vital dietary nutrients from foods containing gliadin, an alcohol-soluble portion of gluten.
What is going on in the body?
Nutritional considerations are important for persons with celiac disease. People with celiac disease are sensitive to cereal protein found in wheat and other grains. But they are more sensitive to the protein in wheat than the protein in other cereals such as rye, oats, and barley. The protein causes a reaction in the person's small intestine that prevents absorption of essential nutrients from the diet. The defect in absorption leads to the symptoms of the disease and malnutrition.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Celiac disease is suspected to be a genetic disorder. But exactly how the genetic changes cause the sensitivity to gluten is not known.
Celiac disease, for example, is common among people from northwest Europe. The frequency among the British is 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 2,000. The frequency among the Irish is as high as 1 in 600. Relatives of people with celiac disease are at higher risk than others in the same population.