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Celiac Disease May Cause Infertility, Miscarriage

Celiac Central,  Nov 8, 2012

A study conducted by Thomas Jefferson University's Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, presented at the 2012 American College of Gastroenterology meeting shows women with celiac disease have greater fertility and pregnancy complications, like miscarriage, than those without the disease.

Celiac disease is a condition which damages the lining of the intestines. The body’s immune system reacts to foods containing gluten and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. The condition can develop at any time during a person’s life and the exact cause is unknown. Those with the disease have difficulty receiving proper nutrition.

Approximately 1,000 participants of the study were surveyed on their history of celiac disease, history of menses, fertility, miscarriages, and successful pregnancies. Of these, 473 women were confirmed to have celiac disease. Another 560 participants not diagnosed with the condition served as controls.

The results of this study showed later onset of menses, earlier onset of menopause, and more frequent fertility assistance for women with celiac disease. Forty-one percent of women with the condition had difficulty conceiving compared to 36.5% of controls, 43% suffered miscarriage compared to 37% without celiac disease, and 23% experienced pre-term labor compared to 14% of their counterparts. They also reported more frequent cesarean sections in those with the disease and fewer children.

Past research has indicated that few gynecologists and fertility doctors are aware of the effects celiac disease has on fertility. Among professionals who might treat patients with celiac disease, family physicians, not gastroenterologists, were proven to be the most knowledgeable of the disorder.

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