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Wake Forest Baptist Offers Free Celiac Disease Screenings

Medical providers with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will offer free blood testing to screen for celiac disease on Saturday, Oct. 22. This event will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Wake Forest Baptist Health – Medical Plaza Clemmons, located at 2311 Lewisville-Clemmons Rd. in Clemmons.

Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. It affects about one in 133 Americans, but it’s estimated that 83 percent of people with celiac disease are undiagnosed.

Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to other disorders including infertility, reduced bone density, neurological disorders, some cancers and other autoimmune diseases. The only existing treatment is consuming a completely gluten-free diet.

These free screenings are available for adults over the age of 18, who have a blood relative who has been diagnosed with celiac disease by a physician and are on a regular, gluten-containing diet.

“Family members of people previously diagnosed with celiac disease are at a much higher risk of developing the disease themselves,” said Anca Safta, M.D., celiac disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist. “This is why screening at-risk families is so important. An early diagnosis is crucial to managing the disease and hopefully providing much better outcomes for patients.”

 Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is free at Medical Plaza – Clemmons.

To register, please visit: www.BrennerChildrens.org/SeriouslyCeliac

A grant from Beyond Celiac, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Dr. Schar U.S.A., Inc. is helping fund the one-day family screening event. This is a pilot program that researchers hope to model nationwide.

Wake Forest Baptist is home to the Gluten and Allergic Digestive Disorders (GLADD) Program directed by Safta. The GLADD Program provides comprehensive medical and nutritional care and ongoing monitoring for children and adults diagnosed with celiac disease. Elizabeth T. Jensen, Ph.D., in the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at Wake Forest Baptist, provides support to the GLADD program to conduct research that will advance understanding of celiac disease. Jensen and Safta are leading the research associated with the family screening pilot project. 

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