Are Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease Hereditary?

Yes. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are genetically predisposed autoimmune conditions. According to Prometheus Therapeutics & Diagnostics in San Diego, California, it’s estimated that approximately one third or 37 percent of the population in the United States carries the gene for celiac disease; however, current statistics estimate that one in 133 people actually express the gene and develop the disease. As awareness and the diagnosis rate of celiac disease continue to increase, it’s realistic to expect that the 133 statistic will decrease with future studies.
Predicting the probability of an individual developing celiac have the gene and never develop the disease. Plus, environmental factors are believed to play a role in the manifestation of the disease, and these factors, namely stress-related factors, vary from individual to individual. Thus, there is no specific formula for predicting the probability of acquiring the gene or developing the condition like there is for attempting to predict one’s eye color based on the eye color of the parents. If one or both parents carry the gene, whether or not they will pass the gene onto a child is unpredictable. However, relative to the rest of the population, you are more likely than others to carry the gene if it runs in your immediate family. And it’s also possible for a child to carry the gene even if the parents do not. Even with identical twins, there is no predictability. If both carry the gene, one can develop the disease while the other escapes it.

Bottom line: While much remains to be studied about the genetic link to celiac disease, it is at least known for certain that the gene must be present before the disease can manifest.

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