Screening of Family Members

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.

[Statement from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center:  “The actual prevalence varies among the published studies, between 4 – 16%. Our own experience when testing for celiac disease in 1st-degree relatives is a prevalence around 5%, or 1:20. In 2nd degree relatives (aunts, grandparents, uncles) a prevalence around 2.6%, or 1:39]

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, read this!


*Per the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center:  “Any individual who has a related autoimmune disorder, regardless of celiac symptoms, should be tested for celiac disease and if negative the test should be repeated on a periodic basis. These conditions include insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (requiring insulin therapy), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Turner’s syndrome, Williams syndrome, Graves disease and Sjogren’s disease.