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Celiac Disease: Who is at Risk?

Both men and women are at risk for celiac disease. People of any age or race can develop this autoimmune condition. However, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing celiac disease.

1st or 2nd degree relative with celiac disease

Talk to your family about celiac disease testing

Celiac disease is genetically based, so it is more common in those with a family history of the condition. This means that if you have a blood relative with celiac disease, you are at an increased risk for developing it too. This autoimmune condition occurs in up to 5-10% of family members of persons diagnosed with celiac disease.

HLA-DQ2 and DQ8 genes

About 95% of people with celiac disease have the HLA-DQ2 gene and most of the remaining 5% have the HLA-DQ8 gene. Genetic testing can determine if you have one or both of these genes.

It is important to note that having the gene means you are at risk for developing celiac disease, but does not mean that you definitely have the disease. A positive genetic test should be followed up with a celiac blood panel to determine if you have celiac disease. If your genetic test returns with a negative result, you can virtually rule out celiac disease.

Some autoimmune diseases

Having an autoimmune disorder makes you more likely to develop other autoimmune diseases, like celiac disease. Other examples of autoimmune conditions can include thyroid disease, Type 1 diabetes mellitus and primary biliary cirrhosis.

Next: Celiac Disease in Families >>

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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