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Delhi sees increased efforts in celiac disease prevention

In order to spread an awareness about the celiac disease among the doctors and the public at large, the Celiac Support Organisation and Indian Medical Association (IMA) organised a public lecture at IMA Hall on 1 December.

Narendra Saini, honorary joint secretary of IMA said, ‘This disease is caused due to allergy to gluten, a protein cotained in cereals like wheat, barley and rye. There is a genetic predisposition, but the manifestations of disease depend on being exposed to gluten containing foods and so the age of onset and severity and types of symptoms may vary greatly in different individuals. Both sexes are equally affected.’

He added further that the typical symptoms include chronic or recurrent diarrhea, abdominal distension and growth failure. ‘Atypically, the disease can present as anemia, rickets, osteoporosis and short stature. More and more individuals with atypical manifestations are being diagnosed with the disease. Many individuals may remain asymptomatic. Diagnosis is often delayed because of poor awareness about the disease,’ Saini said.

D R Rai, honorary secretary general, IMA, said, ‘As the disease is caused due to a genetic predispostion, at present no method is known for its complete cure. However, manifestations of disease can be prevented and reversed by completely avoiding all sources of gluten in diet. Adherence to these gluten free foods has not only to be total but also life long. Good thing is that the disease does not require any medicines .’

S K Mittal, president of Celiac Support Organization, said, ‘Help from an expert nutrionist would be required to plan an age appropriate gluten free diet from ingredients available at home. Help is also needed to avoid foods with hidden gluten (most of the fast foods, sauces, ice creams, kulfi, and some medicinal tonics may contain gluten in varying amounts). It pays to remember that even miniscule amounts of gluten can be as harmful as eating a whole chappati.’
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