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Celiac Disease

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the consumption of gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye) can result in damage to the small intestine. When the body encounters gluten, it has an inappropriate immune reaction and attacks its own cells. Celiac disease can develop anytime from infancy to adulthood. In people with celiac disease, symptoms occur after consuming gluten. These symptoms can include both digestive and non-digestive problems such as diarrhea, gas, tiredness, and headaches.

Is celiac disease genetic?

Genetics play a role in celiac disease. Variants (differences) in two genes can influence the risk of developing celiac disease. These genes are called HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1, and they help the immune system respond to invaders such as viruses and bacteria.


Other factors related to celiac disease

  • In people with a genetic predisposition for celiac disease, consuming gluten can trigger an immune response that attacks the lining of the small intestine.
  • Parents, siblings, and children of an individual diagnosed with celiac disease have a higher chance of developing the condition themselves.
  • People with certain health conditions, such as Down syndrome or type 1 diabetes, are more likely to develop celiac disease.
Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes.

Did you know?

About 1 in 100 people worldwide has celiac disease.

How celiac disease is treated

This autoimmune disease can be effectively treated by removing all sources of gluten from the diet. This includes foods and drinks made with wheat, barley, and rye.

Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes.

Explore more

Curious to learn more? You can see whether you may have a slightly increased risk of developing celiac disease based on your genetics in the 23andMe Celiac Disease Genetic Health Risk report.* 23andMe looks at two common variants associated with celiac disease. The Celiac Disease Genetic Health Risk report is available through the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service.

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