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]

Important: read this 2019 study “Parents, siblings and children of people with celiac disease are at high risk of also having the disease, according to a Mayo Clinic study. This study calls for screening of all first-degree relatives of patients — not just those who show symptoms.”

Some Celiac research centers recommend screening only for family members who are symptomatic, though this is not a consensus among the medical community, particularly after above recent study. It is agreed upon that children should be screened, because they may be too young to describe symptoms accurately.

Also 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.