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Celiac Disease in Families

Do you have a family member with celiac disease?

Get tested. Here's why.

Family Tree
Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 Americans. The disease occurs in genetically predisposed individuals. That means if someone in your family has been diagnosed with celiac disease, you are at an increased risk for the disease.

1 in 22 first-degree family members (parent, child, sibling) and 1 in 39 second-degree family members (aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild and half-sibling) are at risk for celiac disease. Your risk may double if your brother or sister has celiac disease.

If you are at risk, it is critical that you get tested, even if you have no symptoms. Undiagnosed celiac disease can have long-term consequences, so early diagnosis is key.

See a list of celiac disease symptoms »

Talking with your doctor about getting tested for celiac disease

Your primary care physician is your partner in health. You both need to be able to communicate openly and honestly. Let your doctor know that you want to get tested for celiac disease. Explain to him or her the reasons why getting tested is important to you.

  • You have a family member with celiac disease, which puts you at a risk that is 5 to 10 times higher than the general population.
  • Discuss with your primary care provider any concerning symptoms that you have been experiencing. Remember, celiac disease can present in many ways and modern testing is quite accurate.
  • Talk about any fears or concerns you have about getting a positive test result. Your primary care provider can help you prepare for any next steps.

Complete NFCA's Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist to identify your risk and start this conversation with your doctor.

Talk to your doctor about celiac disease testing using these free resources.


Next: Celiac Disease Symptoms

BIDMC and Harvard Medical School
This resource was created by Claudia Dolphin, MA, as part of the Applied Learning Experience, Master’s in Health Communication program at Emerson College. Educational guidance was provided by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center The assistance of Kristin Voorhees, MA, and Daniel Leffler, MD, MS, is gratefully acknowledged.Visit www.CeliacCentral.org, www.BIDMC.org/celiaccenter and www.CeliacNow.org.


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