Coeliac disease (CD) is a systemic autoimmune illness that affects around 1% of the population. Many individuals go undetected or are identified with significant delay. Researchers examined diagnostic delays in children with symptomatic CD in Central Europe (CE). Pediatric gastroenterologists in five CE countries presented data on patients diagnosed in 2016. The age at the onset of the first CD-related symptom(s), the first visit to a pediatric gastroenterologist, and the confirmation of the diagnosis were utilized to assess diagnostic delays. Data from 393 children from Croatia, Hungary, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia (65% girls, median age 7 years, range 7 months to 18.5 years) were analyzed. The median time from the onset of the first symptom(s) to the first visit to a pediatric gastroenterologist was 5 months (range 0–10 years; preschool 4 months, school-aged 5 months), with significant geographical variations (P<0.001). The average diagnostic delay was 6 months (range 0–10 years; preschool 5 months, school-aged 7 months). However, the kind of clinical presentation had minimal influence on delays. Body mass was observed to be lower in delays longer than 3 years compared to delays less than 1 year (z score -0.93 vs -0.39, P<0.05).
The time between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of CD in children in five CE nations is marginally shorter than in a few other small pediatric studies and much shorter than in adults. Nonetheless, delays of more than three years in 6.6% of youngsters were concerning. Raising knowledge about the many symptoms and implementing effective diagnostic techniques can help to decrease diagnostic delays even more.