International Coeliac Day takes place on 16 May, 2018. Organised each year by the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS), the day aims to raise awareness of the disease amongst the general public and healthcare professionals.
Coeliac disease is the most common food-related chronic disease among children in Europe, with prevalence rising in recent decades. However, up to 80% of coeliac disease cases remain undiagnosed in children, which can lead to many serious associated health complications.
Symptoms include diarrhoea or constipation, recurrent abdominal pain or bloating, tiredness and growth problems. The only current treatment for the disease is a strict, lifelong compliance to a gluten-free diet, which achieves remission of the symptoms and prevents further complications.
This year, the AOECS have collaborated with the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) to call on the EU and its Member States to employ effective detection programmes to achieve early diagnosis of coeliac disease in children. The two societies have come together to produce a manifesto for change, outlining three steps that must be taken throughout Europe to promote earlier diagnosis:
- Greater public awareness of paediatric coeliac disease
- Greater healthcare professional awareness of coeliac disease, its symptoms and the high-risk groups
- Establishment of national detection programmes for early identification of paediatric coeliac disease
ESPGHAN and the AOECS would like to invite patient organisations to join them in calling for this change on International Coeliac Day.
UEG support this call for change and encourage patient organisations, patients, members of the public, healthcare professionals and policymakers to also show their support in facilitating earlier diagnosis of the disease in children.
The European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) is a multi-professional organisation whose aim is to promote the health of children with special attention to the gastrointestinal tract, liver and nutritional status, through knowledge creation, the dissemination of science based information, the promotion of best practice in the delivery of care and the provision of high quality education for paediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition professionals in Europe and beyond.
About the AOECS
Founded in 1988, the Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS) is an independent, non-profit organisation. It is the umbrella organisation of European national coeliac societies with currently 35 enrolled Member societies across Europe. AOECS represents people who are affected by coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) and seeks to collaborate with international coeliac organisations worldwide.