The current evidence is insufficient for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to recommend either for or against routine screening of asymptomatic people for celiac disease, according to a Recommendation Statement published online March 28 in JAMA.

The USPSTF is tasked with making recommendations regarding the effectiveness of specific preventive health care services for patients who have no related signs or symptoms. In this case, the group commissioned a systematic review of the literature on celiac disease from 1946 through June 2016, which became the basis for the evidence report informing their Recommendation Statement, said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD , chair of the USPSTF and lead author of the statement, and her associates.

However, only 4 studies out of the 3,036 that were examined addressed the question of screening adequately, and they offered few data of use. According to Roger Chou, MD , lead author of the Evidence Report, and his associates, no trials assessed the screening of asymptomatic children, adolescents, or adults for celiac disease with regard to morbidity, mortality, or quality of life. The evidence also was inadequate concerning targeted screening of at-risk individuals, and there were no studies of the effectiveness of treatment after screen-detected celiac disease was found.

There was some evidence supporting the diagnostic accuracy of the tissue transglutaminase-IgA test to detect celiac disease, but “little or no evidence … to inform most of the key questions related to benefits and harms of screening for celiac disease in asymptomatic individuals,” said Dr. Chou, of the Pacific Northwest Evidence-Based Practice Center and Oregon Health & Science University, both in Portland, and his associates (JAMA. 2017 Mar 28. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.10395).

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo noted that the American Academy of Family Physicians also has concluded that the evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of screening’s benefits and harms. In contrast, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that screening be considered in asymptomatic people who have a first-degree relative with a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease (JAMA. 2017 Mar 28. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.1462).

In addition, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition recommends screening at age 3 years for asymptomatic children who have conditions associated with celiac disease, including type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, William’s syndrome, or selective IgA deficiency, said Dr. Bobbins-Domingo, who is also professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Copies of the Recommendation Statement, the Evidence Report, the authors’ disclosures, and other materials are available at .