USPSTF: Evidence Lacking for Screening Celiac Disease in Asymptomatic Patients

Evidence is inadequate for assessing harms, benefits of screening in asymptomatic individuals
Evidence is inadequate for assessing harms, benefits of screening in asymptomatic individuals

HealthDay News — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to weigh the potential benefits and harms of screening for celiac disease in asymptomatic individuals. These findings form the basis of a draft recommendation statement published online May 3 by the USPSTF.

Researchers from the USPSTF reviewed the evidence for screening for celiac disease in asymptomatic adults, adolescents, and children aged 3 years and older.

The researchers found that there were no trials of screening for celiac disease. There was one recent, good-quality review, which found that serologic tests were accurate for diagnosing celiac disease; however, lower sensitivity was seen in two studies conducted in asymptomatic populations versus studies not restricted to asymptomatic individuals. In a Finish trial involving 40 screen-detected, asymptomatic adults, initiation of a gluten-free diet correlated with small improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms at one year. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the evidence is currently inadequate to assess the benefits and harms of celiac disease screening for those without symptoms.

"More evidence on screening for celiac disease is needed before the Task Force can recommend for or against screening people who don't have any signs or symptoms of the condition," Task Force member Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH, said in a statement. "In the face of unclear evidence, doctors should use their clinical judgment when deciding whom to screen."

Draft Evidence Review
Draft Recommendation Statement
Comment on Recommendation

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