Knowledge regarding the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of children with celiac disease remains limited and inconclusive. We investigated the HRQoL of three groups of 12-year-olds with: i) undetected celiac disease ii) clinically diagnosed celiac disease, and iii) without celiac disease.
A school-based cross-sectional multicenter screening study invited 18 325 children, whereof 68% consented to participate. Participants provided a blood sample, which was later analyzed for anti-tissue-tranglutaminase antibodies, and alongside filled in a questionnaire. When anti-tissue-tranglutaminase antibodies were elevated, a small intestinal biopsy verified the screening-detected celiac disease diagnosis. Self-reported HRQoL was measured using Kidscreen, a generic 52 items instrument with proven reliability and validity. Scores were linearly transformed into a 0–100 scale with higher values indicating better HRQoL. Mean values with standard deviations (mean ± SD) were compared, and uni- and multivariate logistic regression models tested the odds of a low HRQoL among children with undetected or diagnosed celiac disease, respectively.
Children with undetected celiac disease (n = 238) reported similar HRQoL as children without celiac disease (n = 12 037) (83.0 ± 11.0 vs. 82.5 ± 11.3, P = 0.51), and also similar HRQoL (82.2 ± 12.2, P = 0.28) to that of children with diagnosed celiac disease (n = 90), of whom 92% were adherent to treatment. Having undetected celiac disease did not increase the odds of low overall HRQoL, independent of sex, area of residence, study year and occurrence of gastrointestinal symptoms (adjusted odds ratio 0.77, 95% CI 0.54-1.10). Comparable results were seen for diagnosed celiac disease cases (adjusted odds ratio 1.11, 95% CI 0.67-1.85).
Children with undetected celiac disease reported comparable HRQoL as their peers with diagnosed celiac disease, and those without celiac disease, when reporting prior to receiving the diagnosis through screening. Thus, children with celiac disease, both untreated and diagnosed, perceive their HRQoL as unimpaired by their disease.