Background and Aim: To diagnose coeliac disease (CD) in children younger than 2 years, the old ESPGHAN criteria based on 3 small bowel biopsies were recommended until recently. The aim of the present study was to investigate the applicability of only 1 small intestinal biopsy plus positive serology for the diagnosis of CD in children younger than 2 years.
Methods: A prospective cohort study included 81 patients younger than 2 years with symptoms suggestive of CD, who all completed the diagnostic procedure based on 3 small bowel biopsies. According to the finding of the third biopsy, patients were divided into group A—CD confirmed (N = 44), and group B—CD not confirmed, after the gluten challenge (N = 37).
Results: At the time of the first biopsy, total villous atrophy (Marsh IIIc) was found more often in group A than in group B (77% vs 27%, P < 0.01). Also, all of the studied antibodies were more frequently positive in group A than in group B (P < 0.01 for all of the tested antibodies). Positive anti-endomysial antibodies and Marsh IIIc finding were the best discriminators between the group A and the group B and considerably contributed to the prediction of CD.
Conclusions: The second and the third biopsies (before and after the gluten challenge) may also be avoided when diagnosing CD in children younger than 2 years provided that the child, at the time of presentation, has positive anti-endomysial antibodies and Marsh IIIc on the small bowel biopsy. A gluten challenge should be still considered in all other children younger than 2 years.