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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2007 June;98(3):217-9

language: English

Women and celiac disease: association with unexplained infertility

Pellicano R., Astegiano M., Bruno M., Fagoonee S., Rizzetto M.

1 Department of Gastro-Hepatology Molinette Hospital, Turin, Italy
2 Department of Biology Biochemistry and Genetics University of Turin, Turin, Italy


Celiac disease (CD) is a permanent intolerance to gluten characterized by destructions of the small intestinal villi and malabsorption. The gluten-free diet (GFD) results in healing of the mucosa, resolution of the malabsorpitive states, and reversal of great part of CD effects. Among the extradigestive complications associated with CD, unexplained infertility has been reported since the 70’s. The prevalence of CD among women with unexplained infertility is 2.5-3.5%, higher, although not always significantly, than control population. To date, it is widely accepted that untreated CD represents a risk for abortion, low birth weight babies and short-breast feeding period. These features can be corrected by GFD. Some discrepancies could stem from the heterogeneity of the studies. Regarding a potential pathogenic mechanism, since CD causes malabsorption of folic acid and other nutrients, this pathway has been proposed to explain the unfavourable outcomes of pregnancy. However, this remains a speculation. In conclusion, each woman with unexplained infertility should be screened for CD.

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