Dr. Bob on January 16th, 2009

Celiac disease is a common autoimmune disease that affects an estimated one in 133 Americans (1) and an estimated one in 150-200 in Europe (2).  People with celiac disease cannot consume wheat, rye, barley, oats or a few other lesser-known grains (3).

Some researchers believe that about one in 10 people with celiac disease also have gluten axatia.  Ataxia is a neurological disorder that causes a loss of coordination and balance (4,5).  Some believe that 40 percent of unexplained ataxias are due to gluten sensitivity, even in the absence of active celiac disease.  A gluten-free diet may reduce the symptoms of gluten ataxia (6). 

  1. University of Maryland Medical Center, Largest study ever finds that one out of every 133 Americans may have celiac disease, ScienceDaily (2003, February 12). 
  2.  Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Celiac disease not as uncommon as once thought, say researchers at Wake Forest, ScienceDaiy (2000, January 28).
  3. Mayo Clinic, Gluten intolerance no longer considered rare, ScienceDaily (2003, December 31).
  4. American Academy of Neurology, Sensitivity to gluten may result in neurological dysfunction; independent of symptoms. ScienceDaily (2002, April 30).
  5. Ataxia Alternatives:  Research and support:  FAQ
  6. Celiac.org:  Gluten ataxia
  7. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (2002) 72:560-563, Gluten sensitivity as a neurological illness
  8. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (2003) 74:1221-1224, Dietary treatment of gluten ataxia

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