If you suffer from celiac disease, you may have wondered at one time or another where in the world it came from. How in the world did you get it and is it hereditary? Well, statistics say that approximately three million people in our country suffer from celiac disease, which means that this disease affects one percent of Americans. Hard to believe, right? And what’s harder to believe is that approximately ninety-seven percent of those three million go undiagnosed.
Celiac Disease and Genes
It all started for you in the Villi in the small intestines. It’s like having tens of thousands of tiny little fingers projecting inwards from the lining of the small intestine. In that area is where the absorption of digestion products are allowed. Damage to the villi may result from gluten and is found in rye, wheat, barley and spelt, hence celiac disease. Those with this disease carry one or both of the HLADQ2 and DQ8 genes. Yet, up to thirty-percent of the population carries one or both of these genes as well and are not suffering from celiac.
Even though it has been most widely thought that celiac mostly affected white people with European ancestry, in a recent study, there was evidence celiac disease is most common among people whose ancestors came from India’s Punjab region.
Study author, Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, quotes on Health.com, “It is now recognized as one of the most common hereditary disorders worldwide.”
So, does celiac disease run in families? Can you check your DNA and see if you are a carrier of those genes?
It is true that celiac disease is genetic. It does run in families. In fact, your immediate family, mother, father, or siblings who have the same gene type as the family member suffering from celiac disease will have approximately a forty percent risk of developing the disease. However, if your gene test results are negative, then the possibility of developing the disease later in life is excluded. This is valuable information for immediate family members.
Carrying out genetic testing in family members and children is highly recommended so that in the future, unnecessary screening can be avoided. Nonetheless, if there is a gene positive in the immediate family for celiac disease, then screening should be done every three to five years.
Genetics do make a difference in families regarding diseases. How can they not? That’s certainly not to say that if your sibling has celiac disease, that you will get it as well. It’s what’s included in our gene patterns that make the difference. The words ‘chances are you will develop a disease’, does not mean you definitely will.
If you’re interested in learning more about celiac diesease, we invite you to explore these related posts:
- Celiac Disease 101
- Is There a Link Between Celiac Disease and Infertility?
- Is Celiac Disease Life Threatening? And Other Questions to Ask
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