What’s the best way to handle cases at-home blood tests for celiac disease?  Are they the thing of the future:  a screening like a pregnancy test where you take it at home but you also have to officially take it at the doctor’s office.  Or is it just a waste of money?

Doctors and experts, including renowned dietitian Shelley Case, in Canada set out to look more closely into the kits for celiac disease which are available in Canada (but not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration).  They just published their results on the Canadian Family Physician site this month.

They looked into the  case of a mother who tested her 12-year-old son using the at-home kit, and it came back positive.  According to the research, the test “…identifies the tTG antibodies present in the blood of those with celiac disease.”

The test is done with a prick of the finger and approximately 10 minutes later, you can read the results.  How accurate are the results?  According to the study, at this point there is not enough data to explain just how well the test will perform in the general public.  Bottom line in this study is that doctors are concerned  where the home-test results will lead…

“There is concern that individuals  (and families) using this home test might self-diagnose celiac disease and treat themselves with a gluten-free diet based on the test alone, without the [gold-standard diagnositc tool] intestinal biopsy.  Furthermore, evaluations by physicians to identify any problems associated with  celiac disease such as anemia and osteoporosis, will not be carried out.”

They also worry about false-negative diagnoses which researchers say could “…delay the diagnosis of celiac disease.  Untreated, these individuals are at risk of developing potentially serious complications including  osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriages, lymphoma and possibly other autoimmune disorders.”

Doctors recommend an intestinal biopsy for anyone who does the at-home test — including the 12-year-old in this case study — before going on the gluten-free diet.

For more details on this study released this week, go to  the Canadian Family Physicians site.

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