Celiac is a genetic disorder, therefore it is highly recommended that family members be tested. Parents, siblings and children of Celiacs have a 10% chance of having the disease. Also at increased risk are grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Family members with other autoimmune diseases have a 25% risk of developing Celiac – so alert your loved ones of your diagnosis and suggest they consider being screened as well.
Some Celiac research centers recommend screening only for family members who are symptomatic, though this is not a consensus among the medical community. It is agreed upon that children should be screened, because they may be too young to describe symptoms accurately.
Important to note: Even if the antibody blood test is negative at the time of initial testing, Celiac can be triggered later at any point in life, so follow-up testing should occur for family members, certainly if experiencing classic gastrointestinal symptoms.
Ready to discuss testing with your family members? Review this from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: “Family Talk: Getting Your Family Tested for Celiac” to help you start a dialog!
(Note: If you are a new mother with an “at-risk for celiac” infant, please read this from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center: “Timing of Gluten Intake in Infant Nutrition and Risk of Celiac Disease Autoimmunity: Studies have shown that breast feeding at-risk infants at the time of gluten introduction may delay or prevent the development of celiac disease. The risk of developing celiac disease is reduced by prolonged breast-feeding, introduction of gluten during breast-feeding, introduction of gluten in the right “time window,” and introduction of gluten in small amounts. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is partnering with the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research on an international, multi-center study (25 centers in all) to further investigate the effects of early versus late gluten introduction in at-risk infants on the development of celiac disease.”