Diagnosis of the autoimmune disease, coeliac disease, which affects 1 in 100 people, has risen in the UK from 24% in 2011 to 30% in 2015.
The research, commissioned by the charity Coeliac UK and carried out by the University of Nottingham, searched UK patient records up to and including 2015 for clinical diagnoses of coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis (the skin manifestation of coeliac disease). It showed that although diagnosis rose by a quarter over the four years, the rate of diagnosis is slowing. This means that around half a million people in the UK are still living with undiagnosed coeliac disease.
“The fact that testing for the condition is slowing and nothing has changed in people being diagnosed with IBS before being tested for coeliac disease, suggests the NHS is failing to address the mountain of underdiagnoses,” said Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK. “We know this is even more urgent today as recent research is uncovering some symptoms of coeliac disease, specifically neurological ones that cannot be reversed without an early diagnosis.”
It can take around 13 years for a person with coeliac disease to be diagnosed.