March 31, 2009

Celiac disease can have economic impact

U.S. medical scientists say they've demonstrated an economic benefit to the diagnosis of celiac disease in a managed care U.S. population.

The researchers at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center said they determined increased awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease would benefit not only patients, but also would reduce health care costs.

Celiac disease occurs in genetically susceptible individuals due to the development of an immune response to gluten, the protein component of wheat, rye and barley. Although the disease occurs in about 1 percent of the U.S. population, the scientists said most people with the condition remain undiagnosed. Celiac disease is associated with the development of osteoporosis, anemia, various autoimmune conditions and several malignancies.

Researchers led by Dr. Peter Green, a professor of clinical medicine, said their study of a large managed-care database revealed cost reductions after diagnosis of celiac disease were attributable to decreasing trends in utilization of office visits, laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging and endoscopy procedures.

The study is detailed in the Journal of Insurance Medicine.