QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 78 - Page 13

More Scottish children now affected by coeliac disease New research has found that more children than ever before are living with coeliac disease - a debilitating digestive disease. A TEAM OF SCIENTISTS from QMU and the University of Edinburgh has found that coeliac disease now affects six times more children living in Scotland than it did in 1990. Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where a person experiences adverse reactions to gluten. However, the disease only affects those who carry the gene for the condition. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and eating foods containing gluten can trigger a range of symptoms including diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss and flatulence. It can also make people feel extremely tired and can even affect children’s growth. At its most serious, coeliac disease may cause children to become malnourished because their bodies struggle to absorb nutrients. The research team analysed the health records of children from South East Scotland aged under 16 years who were newly diagnosed with the condition between 1990 and 2009. Researchers based at Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh found that the rate of children being newly diagnosed with coeliac disease rose from 1.7 in every 100,000 children in 1990-1994 to 11.8 per 100,000 children in 2005-2009. Findings from the study confirms a trend that doctors have seen on a daily basis in Lothian, Fife and Borders. They are keen to look closer at the reasons why they are seeing more patients with coeliac disease, as the study found that it’s not just because people are more aware of the disease or that tests to detect coeliac disease have now improved. The research discussed above was highlighted in the journal ‘Pediatrics’. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/09/04/ peds.2013-0932.abstract ❒ A gluten-free diet: how good and easy is it? Energy intake on a gluten-free diet Further research by the scientific team from QMU and the University of Edinburgh examined the dietary and nutrient intakes of 35 Scottish teenagers with coeliac disease and compared this to healthy teenagers. Lois White and Dr Elaine Bannerman from QMU, along with Dr Peter Gillett from Royal Hospital for Sick Children, NHS Lothian, found that teenagers with coeliac disease had a greater energy intake from sugar and saturated fat. It is believed that this may be due to a wider availabili ty of gluten-free substitute products that are high in sugar and fat compared with other food groups. Again, the team believes that further research is needed to determine if true nutritional inequalities exist between the groups. Sticking to a gluten-free diet The research team also looked at how well Scottish adolescents with coeliac disease stuck to a gluten- free diet. Results showed that 39% of teenagers adhered to their diet. This flagged up the possibility that a significant proportion of teenagers may need additional help so they could better follow a gluten- free diet. Support could include help with better understanding of food labelling and all scenarios when dietary compliance is more difficult, such as preparing for social events, eating during long distance travelling and preparing a suitable diet whilst on holiday. Dr Elaine Bannerman, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, said: “This research provides detailed information on the dietary habits of adolescents with coeliac disease, as well as insight into their dietary compliance. These findings will assist the food industry, healthcare professionals and specialist third sector groups to provide more targeted support to improve the lives of young people with coeliac disease.” This research has been funded by generous support from the Gloag family and Coeliac UK. For further information about coeliac disease visit the Coeliac UK website: www.coeliac.org.uk ❒ QMYOU / Health & Rehabilitation 13