BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Although the incidence of pediatric celiac disease (CD) is increasing globally, it is uncertain whether this is attributed to improved case ascertainment or signifies a true rise. We aimed to identify all incident cases of childhood CD in southeast Scotland over the period 1990 to 2009 to assess trends in total incidence and cases diagnosed as a result of (1) a classic presentation, (2) a nonclassic presentation, or (3) targeted screening.

METHODS:

Twenty-year retrospective cohort study of case notes, pathology databases, endoscopy, and patient records for all children (<16 years of age) diagnosed with CD on biopsy in southeast Scotland (at-risk population of 225 000–233 000). Data were age-gender standardized and Poisson regression models used to calculate changes in incidence over time.

RESULTS:

A total of 266 children were diagnosed from 1990 to 2009 with an increase in incidence from 1.8/100 000 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1–2.7) to 11.7/100 000 (95% CI 9.8–13.9) between the epochs 1990 to 1994 and 2005 to 2009, respectively (P < .0001). The incidence of nonclassic presentation (children with a monosymptomatic presentation and those with extraintestinal symptoms) and actively screened cases increased by 1566% (P < .05) and 1170% (P < .001) from 1990 to 1999 to 2000 to 2009, respectively. However, a rise in the incidence of Oslo classic cases from 1.51/100 000 (95% CI 0.91–2.38) in 1990 to 1994 to 5.22/100 000 (95% CI 3.98–6.75) in 2005 to 2009 (P < .01) remained evident.

CONCLUSIONS:

The incidence of pediatric CD increased 6.4-fold over the 20 years. This study demonstrates that this rise is significant for classic CD, indicating a true rise in the incidence of pediatric CD.

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