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Gut. 1996 August; 39(2): 180–184.
PMCID: PMC1383295

Effect of a gluten free diet on osteopenia in adults with newly diagnosed coeliac disease.


BACKGROUND/AIMS: Calcium and vitamin D malabsorption in coeliac disease predispose to skeletal demineralisation. This study aimed to determine bone mineral density in patients studied in the first year after diagnosis of coeliac disease, and to detect changes in bone mineral density over the subsequent year. METHODS: Lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral density was measured in 21 adults with coeliac disease, diagnosed and started on a gluten free diet during the preceding year, with dual energy x ray absorptiometry and repeated after 12 months. RESULTS: Bone mineral density was significantly lower in patients than in paired controls (matched for age and sex), at lumbar spine (0.819 g/cm2 compared with 1.021 g/cm2, p < 0.001 Wilcoxon signed rank test) and femoral neck (0.663 g/cm2 compared with 0.794 g/cm2, p < 0.001). Repeat measurement after 12 months demonstrated that patients had a significant gain in bone mineral density at lumbar spine (16.6%/year), and femoral neck (15.5%/year, p < 0.002, Wilcoxon signed rank test at both sites), whereas no significant change in bone mineral density was detected in controls. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of coeliac disease with a gluten free diet is associated with a significant increase in bone mineral density, although patients still had lower bone mineral density than controls.

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