Celiac disease in children: Is it a problem in Kuwait?

Wafa’a Al-Qabandi, Eman Buhamrah, Dalia Mahmoud Yousef Alabdulrazzaq, Khaled Hamadi, Fawaz Al Refaee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Celiac disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the small intestine triggered by gluten ingestion. The objective of this study is to describe our experience with CD children in Kuwait.

Methods: The records of children with CD seen in the pediatric gastroenterology unit between February 1998 and December 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were referred because of symptoms or positive CD antibody screening of a high-risk group (type 1 diabetes and Down syndrome).

Results: Forty-seven patients were diagnosed: 53% were symptomatic and 47% were identified by screening. The median age at diagnosis was 66 (range 7–189) months. All cases were biopsy-proven except one. The symptomatic patients were significantly younger than those identified following screening (P<0.004). In the whole group, 66% were females and 77% were Kuwaitis; 9% had a positive family history of CD. The estimated cumulative incidence was 6.9/105. The median duration of symptoms before diagnosis was 8.5 (range 2–54) months. Failure to thrive was the most common presenting complaint (72%) followed by diarrhea (64%) and abdominal distension (56%). Atypical manifestations were seen in 60% of patients. Underweight and short stature were confirmed in 19% and 17% of patients, respectively. Overweight and obesity were detected in 14% and 6%, respectively. CD serology was based on a combination of antiendomysial and antigliadin antibodies. The median follow up was 24 (range 12–144) months. All patients were commenced on a gluten free diet, but good compliance was only achieved in 78%.

Conclusion: The low frequency of childhood CD in Kuwait could probably be attributed to either an underestimation of the atypical presentations or failure of proper screening. Also, adherence to a gluten free diet is a major problem in our population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Experimental Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2014


  • Celiac disease
  • Children
  • Kuwait


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