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New clues to coeliac disease

A cluster of gastrointestinal and psychological symptoms has been identified that can allow GPs to spot patients at high risk of coeliac disease.

A new study found that patients presenting with depression, anxiety, symptoms of diarrhoea and anaemia were more likely than controls to have the condition.

Depression and anxiety raised risk 2.5-fold, diarrhoea 4.5-fold and anaemia 26.3-fold.

New findings from 37 general practices found frequent referrals to secondary care specialists before diagnosis were also more common in those who had the disease than controls.

Professor Chris Butler, professor of primary care medicine at the University of Cardiff and one of the study authors, said: 'There is very little information in general practices that might help us target people with coeliac disease.'

Professor Butler, a GP in Mountain Ash, South Wales, added: 'The findings show that GPs should raise their suspicion if an adult is frequently consulting for a broad range of conditions, is often more anxious and depressed, has diarrhoea and shows low levels of iron.' In the study, published in the August issue of the British Journal of General Practice, the medical records of patients with coeliac disease were compared with controls matched by age, sex and general practice in the five years before the patients were diagnosed.

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