Peripheral Neuropathy and Celiac Disease

Question:

How common is peripheral neuropathy in children with celiac? My daughter's peripheral neuropathy started at age 2 before we even knew she had celiac.

Answer:

There are known associations between celiac disease and many neurologic disorders, one of which is peripheral neuropathy (PN). A study published this year by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center found that, of 400 adults with celiac disease, almost 40% of the patients had peripheral neuropathy. However, it is important to note that these were patients who self-reported peripheral neuropathy. In other words, they were not examined by or officially diagnosed by a neurologist. This was a significant limitation of the study.  

In terms of PN in children with celiac disease, only two studies have ever been published.  One found 2 out of 27 children with celiac disease who had PN (or 7%).  The other study found 1 patient out of 835 children with celiac disease who had PN (or 0.1%).  There is so much variation in the literature regarding the occurrence of PN in celiac disease! This is because most of the available studies are small (from a scientific research perspective).  We definitely need more studies and bigger studies in children to determine exactly how common peripheral neuropathy is.

Sincerely,

Center for Celiac Disease at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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