Background: While coeliac disease is now recognised as being associated with both osteoporosis and osteomalacia, the size of any increase in the risk of fracture in patients with coeliac disease compared with the general population has not been quantified.
Aim: To examine the fracture experience of adults with coeliac disease compared with the general population.
Subjects: Patients with coeliac disease diagnosed in adulthood and born before 1950, selected from two large population based disease registers, and age and sex frequency matched controls identified from local general practitioner lists.
Methods: A four page lifestyle and general health questionnaire which included specific questions about fracture experience.
Results: Analysis was performed on 244 patients with coeliac disease and 161 controls, giving response rates of 89% and 72%, respectively. Eighty two (35%) coeliac patients and 53 (33%) controls reported ever having sustained one or more fractures, giving an age and sex adjusted odds ratio of 1.05 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68–1.62). The most common fracture site reported was the forearm or wrist, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.21 (95% CI 0.66–2.25) for patients with coeliac disease having had a forearm or wrist fracture. Low trauma fractures were reported by 37 patients with coeliac disease (15.7%) and by 21 controls (13.8%), with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.16 (95% CI 0.65–2.10). The risk of low trauma fracture was slightly higher in coeliac men than women (odds ratio 1.28 compared with 1.12), but this difference was not statistically significant (p=0.84). After adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status, patients with coeliac disease reported 13% more low trauma fractures than controls (odds ratio 1.13, 95% CI 0.60–2.12). There was no difference in low trauma fracture risk before and after diagnosis of coeliac disease.
Conclusion: No overall increased fracture risk in patients with coeliac disease was observed. Although severe osteoporosis may develop in a subset of patients, as a whole patients with coeliac disease do not represent a population at particularly high risk of osteoporotic fracture and thus targeting them for osteoporosis screening and treatment is not justified.
- coeliac disease
- bone fracture
- HRT, hormone replacement therapy
- BMI, body mass index
- IBD, inflammatory bowel disease
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