BACKGROUND: . In a biopsy-proven adult celiac disease (CeD) cohort from the Netherlands, male patients were diagnosed with CeD at significantly older ages than female patients.
OBJECTIVES: To identify which factors contribute to diagnosis later in life and whether diagnostic delay influences improvement of symptoms after starting a gluten-free diet (GFD).
METHODS: . We performed a questionnaire study in 211 CeD patients (67:144, male:female) with median age at diagnosis of 41.8 years (interquartile range: 25-58) and at least Marsh 2 histology.
RESULTS: . Classical symptoms (diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain and/or weight loss) were more frequent in women than men, but sex was not significantly associated with age at diagnosis. In a multivariate analysis, a non-classical presentation (without any classical symptoms) and a negative family history of CeD were significant predictors of older age at diagnosis (coefficients of 8 and 12 years, respectively). A delay of >3 years between first symptom and diagnosis was associated with slower improvement of symptoms after start of GFD, but not with sex, presentation of classical symptoms or age at diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: . Non-classical CeD presentation is more prevalent in men and is associated with a diagnosis of CeD later in life. Recognizing CeD sooner after onset of symptoms is important because a long diagnostic delay is associated with a slower improvement of symptoms after starting a GFD.