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Call for action as charity suggests 7,000 Irish children have undiagnosed coeliac disease

The Coeliac Society of Ireland has warned that there needs to be an increased focus on diagnosis of the condition as it was revealed that 7,300 Irish children are undiagnosed.

The charity accused Ireland’s health services of failing the estimated number of children who haven’t yet been diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, warning that there needs to be an increased focus on diagnosis, particularly among children from poorer backgrounds.

Speaking at the start of Coeliac Awareness Week 2019, Gill Brennan, CEO of the Coeliac Society of Ireland, commented: “Thousands of children in Ireland have undiagnosed coeliac disease and many of those who are diagnosed have waited years for the diagnosis and to see a dietitian about moving on to a gluten free diet. These children have a serious condition which can have a lasting impact on their development and they are being failed by our health service.”

The warning came as part of Coeliac Awareness Week 2019, which has the theme ‘Grow With Us’ because of the impact that coeliac disease has on children.

Coeliac Society dietitian, Sarah Keogh added: “The reality is that currently a coeliac test is more likely to be prompted by a patient than by a doctor. People in higher socio-economic groups often have better health literacy and may be aware of other symptoms of coeliac disease and so know to ask their doctor about the test. There is also a difference in being able to afford to pursue testing and treatment due to higher incomes.”