Coeliac Disease in Indian Children: Assessment of Clinical, Nutritional and Pathologic Characteristics

S. Mohindra, S.K. Yachha, A. Srivastava, N. Krishnani, R. Aggarwal, U.C. Ghoshal, K.K. Prasad, S.R. Naik


Coeliac disease is an important cause of chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive, and anaemia in children. Little information on the disease is available in India. This study was undertaken to determine the prevalence, clinical, anthropometric and histological profiles of coeliac disease in patients attending a tertiary referral centre in India. Coeliac disease was diagnosed in 42 (16.6%) of 246 children with chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive, and anaemia. The mean ages at onset of symptoms and at diagnosis were 2.4 (range 0.5-10) years and 8.3 (range 3-14) years respectively, and a mean period of delay in diagnosis was 5.9 (range 1-13.5) years. Of the 42 cases, history of failure to thrive was observed in 38 (90%), chronic diarrhoea in 37 (88%), and anaemia in 6 cases. Short stature, under-nutrition, anaemia, oedema of feet, rickets, clubbing of fingers, features of vitamin A deficiency, and B-vitamin deficiency were found in 42, 26, 38, 9, 8, 6, 3, and 2 cases respectively. Onset of symptoms, such as, chronic diarrhoea and failure to thrive, was earlier in children with subtotal villous atrophy than in those with partial villous atrophy (mean±SD; 2.00±1.46 years vs 3.30±2.72 years;p<0.05). Results of the study suggest that coeliac disease is not uncommon in Indian children. Coeliac disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis, particularly in children without any symptoms of diarrhoea.

Key words: Coeliac disease; Diarrhoea; Diarrhoea, Infantile; Anaemia; Infant growth; Child growth; India

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