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GPs are diagnosing increasing numbers of coeliac patients, a new audit reveals.

Overall diagnoses increased by 46 per cent from 1996/8 to 2002/4, with the proportion identified by GPs rising from 26 to 60 per cent.

The research, published online by Digestive and Liver Disease, studied 347 patients attending a specialist coeliac centre in Northern Ireland.

Researchers concluded regular training sessions for GPs had improved diagnosis and management and should be rolled out more widely.

Study leader Dr William Dickey, consultant gastroenterologist at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, said coeliac patients presented with a wide variety of symptoms, including indigestion, anaemia, skin rash and chronic fatigue. He said GPs were ‘ideally placed' to consider coeliac disease a possible cause.

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