Aims The study aimed to evaluate the epidemiological and clinical profile of the patients diagnosed with celiac disease in ‘Grigore Alexandrescu’ Children’s Hospital over a 29 years period.
Methods We performed a retrospective study including 224 patients diagnosed with celiac disease, from January 1985 until December 2013. Three groups resulted. The first group included patients diagnosed from 1985 until 1995, before celiac serology was available, the second group patients diagnosed from 1996 until 2006 using qualitative antitissue-transglutaminase antibodies and the third group patients diagnosed from 2007 until 2013 using quantitative antitissue-transglutaminase antibodies and HLA DQ2/DQ8 typing. From the medical records we extracted age and clinical characteristics of patients at presentation.
Results The groups included 1.8, 13.8 and 7.7 patients/year. The mean age at diagnosis was 5.9 ± 4.7, 4.4 ± 3.6 and 4.4 ± 3.5 years respectively. Gastrointestinal symptoms were described in 100%, 86.8% and 59.2%, particularly chronic diarrhoea in 90%, 51.9% and 48.1%. Twenty percent of patients in the first group presented with celiac crisis, only 0.6% in the second group and none in the third. Non-gastrointestinal symptoms were not observed in the first group and were reported in the second and third groups in 13.1% and 61.1%.
Conclusion Since 2007 a decreasing tendency in the number of patients diagnosed/year was observed. Gastrointestinal symptoms were initially the sole clinical finding, particularly chronic diarrhoea, but in time patients presented with non-gastrointestinal symptoms or oligosymptomatic/asymptomatic celiac disease with an increasing frequency.