Malorie Simons, MD
Malorie Simons, MD

Poster 2018 A Fatal and Preventable Complication of Celiac Disease – A Call to Action

Author Insight from Malorie Simons, MD, Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University, Providence, RI

What’s new here and important for clinicians?

Celiac disease affects about 1% of the population, and the number is on the rise. An underappreciated complication of celiac disease is hyposplenism, occurring in up to 30% of patients according to some studies.

Hyposplenism in celiac disease increases the risk for serious infections and even death. In this case report, a patient with uncontrolled celiac disease suffered from Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteremia that ultimately led to his demise. His autopsy revealed a spleen that was approximately 15% the size of a normal one. Unfortunately, our patient is not alone. Pneumococcal infection is a common complication of asplenia and hyposplenism, leaving many patients with celiac disease at increased risk.

Surprisingly, there are no American guidelines suggesting that patients with celiac disease below the age of 65 receive vaccination against S. Pneumoniae. We strongly recommend individuals diagnosed with celiac disease receive this vaccine, to combat a possibly fatal, yet preventable, complication of their condition.

What do patients need to know?

Many people know someone who is affected by celiac disease. Celiac disease can make people more at risk for infections, some that can be deadly.

It is important for patients to be aware of this risk, and ask their doctors about getting vaccinated to prevent this complication of celiac disease.

Read the abstract

Author Contact Malorie Simons, MD, Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University, Providence, RI

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