Celiac and Other Autoimmune Diseases

It is a common assumption in the celiac community that if you have one autoimmune disease it is common to have multiple autoimmune diseases. I was curious to see if this was true, so I went looking.

I started with searches about celiac disease and the commonly occurring additional autoimmune diseases. This article goes into great detail about the relationship between having celiac and a variety of other autoimmune diseases. Most commonly autoimmune thyroiditis, autoimmune hepatitis, type 1 diabetes, DH, Sjogren’s syndrome, and psoriasis are associated with celiac disease.

But in the conclusions they talk about celiac, autoimmunity, and the gluten free diet. They say, “there are no good data to establish a cause and effect relationship between CD, gluten, and these autoimmune conditions.” So, a gluten free diet may or may not help, but there is no science to definitively back it up. This study is 10 years old, so new information might be out, I just didn’t find it.

This study out of Italy talks about children with celiac disease that looked at about 1800 children. They matched children with celiac disease and those without based on year of birth and sex to determine if the children with celiac were at increased risk of other autoimmune diseases. It seems the children with celiac were at substantial risk of having autoimmune thyroid disease. The children were at a slight risk of having Type 1 Diabetes. So, it looks like parents should watch out for autoimmune thyroid disease in their children.

There is a condition called Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome (MAS) discussed in this article. It is where approximately 25% of those with one autoimmune disease have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases.

MAS is when a person has three or more autoimmune diseases. According to the study, having five autoimmune diseases is rare. They have classified the autoimmune diseases into types based on the diseases that appear together. If someone has one or two of the diseases in a group and symptoms of the third appear, doctors should begin testing immediately for the third. Also, one of the diseases is typically a skin disorder.

  • Type 1 MAS includes myasthenia gravis, thymoma, polymyositis and giant cell myocarditis
  • Type 2 MAS includes Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), scleroderma, and autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Type 3 MAS groups together autoimmune thyroid disease, myasthenia gravis and/or thymoma, Sjögren’s syndrome, pernicious anemia, idiopathic thrombopenic purpura (ITP), Addison’s disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, vitiligo, autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and dermatitis herpetiformis.

It is definitely something here, but I’m not sure that the common assumption that once you have one autoimmune disease you will have others. Some might develop additional autoimmune diseases, but most won’t.

This is what I found. I doubt it is a comprehensive review of the literature. So, if you have more information, let me know.

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