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Celiac and Diabetes – Get tested FOR FREE!

If you’ve been out to a CIM event in recent years (or, really, any Type 1 event, for that matter), you’ve probably noticed that more and more gluten free food options are available (at least, we try to make them available!) It now comes as second nature to us to be sure that food in the diabetes community is gluten-free-friendly. Today, we wanted to take the chance to share with you a little more about the connection between Type 1 diabetes and Celiac Disease and provide you with a bit of information about a study going on in Ontario that is offering FREE Celiac Testing. <— Whoa.


What is Celiac disease, anyway?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition (just like diabetes – starting to notice a trend here…) Celiac disease can be diagnosed at any age.

When someone with Celiac disease eats something that contains gluten (like wheat, rye, and barley) their intestines can become inflamed resulting in some uncomfortable GI issues. Regardless of whether someone exhibits these uncomfortable GI issues, when someone with Celiac disease ingests gluten, the body becomes unable to absorb nutrients. <— Especially troubling if you’re also living with Type 1 diabetes!

What are the links between Celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes?
Not only are both Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease autoimmune conditions, they actually share some of the same genes. Between 3.5 and 10% of individuals with Type 1 diabetes will also develop Celiac Disease (and vice versa.)

How is Celiac disease managed? 
Most individuals with Celiac disease follow a gluten-free diet. Luckily, gluten free options seem to be becoming more and more abundant. (Unfortunately, they aren’t becoming more and more affordable…) Following a gluten-free diet requires extra commitment around food preparation and nutrition label checking, but can result in some of the most delicious and creative meals and snacks. (Looking for some inspiration? Check out Laura Brandes’ awesome recap on her gluten-free journey and the deliciousness she creates!)

How do you get tested for Celiac disease?
Many adults living with Type 1 diabetes have never been tested for Celiac disease. There are many reasons for this – the test, alone, is not generally covered by health plans and can cost between $120 and $200. Not something a lot of people want to shell out cash for, especially if they aren’t symptomatic. The test is relatively simple, though – especially for someone with Type 1 diabetes. It requires some extra blood to be drawn at your lab appointment. That’s it (well, from our side of things, at least!)

Heard enough? Want to get tested? And want it to be FREE?

The CIM team was recently introduced to a team of researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children who are conducting a mass study through The Celiac Disease and Diabetes–Dietary Intervention and Evaluation Trial (CD-DIET). They are investigating the relationship between Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease and are currently looking to test upwards of 5000 adults who are currently living with Type 1 diabetes for Celiac disease. And through the support of the JDRF, the testing is free! You can be tested at most blood labs across the province, and the requisition can be emailed to you – No need to travel into the city.

Check out the information below to find out how to get involved.

Participation in the study is open to type 1 diabetes patients who:

  1. Are between the ages of 8 and 45 years

  2. Have had type 1 diabetes for more than 1 year

  3. Can speak and read English or French

  4. Are willing to undergo a blood test to check for celiac disease

  5. Have had no prior diagnosis of celiac disease

Are you between the ages of 8-45 years? If you are then you might be eligible to participate in a research study to find out how often individuals with Type 1 Diabetes test positive for Celiac Disease even though they don’t have symptoms. Screening involves a simple blood test and completion of a questionnaire. This  is ongoing across the Greater Toronto Area and Ontario. For further details, please contact the CD-DIET Staff at 416-813-7654, ext. 201713 or cd.diet@sickkids.ca. You can also find more information on www.celiacanddiabetes.com

The CD-Diet (Celiac Disease and Diabetes – Dietary Intervention and Evaluation Trial (CD-DIET) – Screening study is a multicentre randomized controlled trial which will involve 7000 individuals (8-45 years of age), who have had type 1 diabetes for at least 1 year. This study will screen eligible people with Type 1 Diabetes for Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is a medical condition whereby eating foods that contain a protein called gluten causes inflammation of the intestine. Gluten is found in three different grains (wheat, rye and barley) which are often used to make foods like breads, pasta and cereals. People with Type 1 Diabetes are at increased risk of developing Celiac Disease. Between 5 – 7% of people with Type 1 Diabetes will develop Celiac Disease. The purpose of this screening study is to identify people who may be eligible for the second phase of the study which will be focused on people with Type 1 Diabetes who have Celiac Disease without symptoms. This will be examining the short-term effects of following a gluten-free diet or a regular gluten-containing diet in people with Type 1 Diabetes who have Celiac Disease without symptoms.