The aim of this study was to evaluate whether coeliac disease affects growth, glycaemic control, and general well-being of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Eighteen subjects were found to have coeliac disease by a screening program. Gastrointestinal symptoms, changes in growth and the levels of glycated haemoglobin (GHbA1) were analysed, as well as subjective well-being before and after diagnosis of coeliac disease. Overt gastrointestinal symptoms and deterioration of growth prior to disclosure of coeliac disease were seen only in one patient who had both of these conditions. Retrospectively, most subjects reported mild gastrointestinal complaints, which resolved on a gluten-free diet. Introduction of a gluten-free diet did not have any positive effect on glycaemic control, but was associated with an increase in weight-for-height (from 4.3 ± 18.1 to 8.2 ± 15.4% deviation from population median, p= 0.02). This increase in weight-for-height was inversely correlated with changes in GHbA1 (r=– 0.574, p= 0.02).
Conclusion: Coeliac disease is rarely associated with signs of malabsorption in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Introduction of a gluten-free diet may be associated with excess weight gain. We recommend intensified follow-up for these subjects.