People who have the digestive disorder known as celiac disease appear to be at an increased risk for nerve damage, a new study by Swedish researchers suggests.
The researchers looked at more than 28,000 people who have celiac disease and a control group of more than 139,000 people who do not have celiac disease. Those with celiac disease were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with nerve damage than those without it. Nerve damage is medically known as neuropathy.
However, the researchers pointed out, the risk of nerve damage is still low and the study, published online May 11 in the journal JAMA Neurology, does not show a cause-and-effect relationship.
“We found an increased risk of neuropathy in patients with celiac disease that persists after celiac disease diagnosis,” Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues wrote.
“Although absolute risks for neuropathy are low, celiac disease is a potentially treatable condition with a young age of onset. Our findings suggest that screening could be beneficial in patients with neuropathy,” the researchers concluded.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, they develop problems in their small intestine.