The city of Chicago hosted the 15th International Celiac Disease Symposium on Sunday through Wednesday, September 22-25. It was held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. This year’s ICDS conference revealed the latest on celiac disease prevention, the reality of alternative treatments and clarity on non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Dr. Stefano Guandalini, founder and medical director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, was one of many experts who took part in ICDS. He talked to Brandi Walker about the disease, the latest treatment options the conference discussed, and what he hopes it could accomplish for the health community.
- What is celiac disease? Celiac disease is the world’s most common genetically-induced autoimmune disorder. It is triggered by ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
- What are the causes of this disease? Stress to the autoimmune system is thought to cause the abnormal reaction to gluten in genetically susceptible individuals.
- How can it be prevented? Studies have shown that we may delay the onset and newer studies, like those discussed at ICDS, are exploring the idea that following certain infant feeding practices may actually help to prevent CD.
- What are the risk factors of the disease? Left untreated, celiac can lead to other serious complications such as anemia, osteoporosis and, in rare cases, cancer.
- What are latest treatment options that this conference discusses? The only known treatment for celiac disease is life-long adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. Many are collaborating to find alternative and/or adjunct therapies to the diet while others, like the researchers at The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, are focused on finding a cure.
- What do you hope this conference could accomplish for the health community in the near future? Awareness and education are key. We must make sure our medical professionals have celiac disease on their radar and are educated properly about how to look for and diagnose celiac disease. We still have at least 85% of Americans living with active celiac disease who are still undiagnosed. That is unacceptable. Hopefully, the important information shared at ICDS2013 will continue to reach the medical community. We hope to have a DVD of the presentations available for purchase in the coming weeks. Check our website at www.cureceliacdisease.org.
For more information on ICDS2013, visit www.icds2013.org.