The Celiac Disease Foundation was proud to be an endorsement partner of the 2019 James W. Freston Conference – Food at the Intersection of Gut Health and Disease to educate physicians on the latest research on celiac disease management. On August 9-10, 2019, Director of Research and Advocacy, Julia McBeth, attended the conference in Chicago, IL.

The conference brought together a multidisciplinary audience and expert panelists to address practitioner challenges and solutions in gastroenterology, and to examine how nutrition management therapies can combat gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease.

On August 10, the Celiac Disease and Other Wheat-Related Disorders session featured Foundation Medical Advisory Board member and world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and research scientist, Alessio Fasano, MD, as well as 2019 Celiac Disease Foundation Young Investigator Award recipient and Director of Clinical Research at Columbia University, Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS.

Below are a few highlights from Dr. Fasano’s talk, The Gluten Conundrum: How to Distinguish Facts (Few) from Fantasies (Many):

• The most common reasons people in the US adopt a gluten-free diet include believing it is healthier (approx. 50 million), to lose weight (approx. 24 million), to resolve gastointestinal symptoms (approx. 9 million) and extra-gastrointestinal symptoms (~7 million), and celiac disease (approx. 450 thousand).
• Innate immunity is an immunity already present in the body, while adaptive immunity is created in response to exposure to a foreign substance. Innate immunity is thought to be common to both NCGS and celiac disease, while adaptive immunity is specific to celiac disease.
• Breast feeding or introduction of gluten while breast feeding shows no protective effect on celiac disease onset in at-risk infants.
• Early introduction (16 weeks) of gluten traces to potentially induce tolerance does not protect against celiac disease in at-risk infants.
• Having gastrointestinal infections during the first year of life seems influential in increasing the risk of celiac disease onset.
• The presence of High-risk HLA profiles (having HLA DQ2.5 and DQ8, or having a close relative with celiac disease) seems to be the most influential predictor of increased risk of celiac disease onset.

In his talk, What’s New on the Horizon for Managing Celiac Disease?, Dr. Lebwohl covered the current landscape of celiac drugs in the development pipeline, methods of monitoring gluten-free diet adherence, and gluten-free diet trends in the United States. Dr. Lebwohl presented the results of a recent study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, in which he analyzed data from the Celiac Disease Foundation’s patient registry, iCureCeliac®. Out of 982 adults with celiac disease, he and his colleagues found that 202 (21%) were diagnosed based on serology alone. These patients were more likely to be diagnosed by non-physician practitioner and to use supplements to aid in the digestion of gluten. These patients were also less likely to have seen a dietitian.

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