Seroprevalence of celiac disease among healthy adolescents in Saudi Arabia
To identify the seroprevalence of celiac disease among healthy Saudi adolescents. Between December 2007 and January 2008, healthy students from the 10(th) to 12(th) grades were randomly selected from three regions in Saudi Arabia. These regions included the following: (1) Aseer region, with a student population of 25512; (2) Madinah, with a student population of 23852; and (3) Al-Qaseem, with a student population of 16067. Demographic data were recorded, and a venous blood sample (5-10 mL) was taken from each student. The blood samples were tested for immunoglobulin A and immunoglobulin G endomysial antibodies (EMA) by indirect immunofluorescence. In total, 1167 students (614 males and 553 females) from these three regions were randomly selected. The majority of the study population was classified as lower middle class (82.7%). There were 26 (2.2%) students who had a positive anti-EMA test, including 17 females (3.1%) and 9 males (1.5%). Al-Qaseem region had the highest celiac disease prevalence among the three studied regions in Saudi Arabia (3.1%). The prevalence by region was as follows: Aseer 2.1% (10/479), Madinah 1.8% (8/436), and Al-Qaseem 3.2% (8/252). The prevalence in Madinah was significantly lower than the prevalence in Aseer and Al-Qaseem (P = 0.02). Our data suggest celiac disease prevalence might be one of the highest in the world. Further studies are needed to determine the real prevalence.