Probiotic Use in Celiac Disease: Results from a National Survey
Background and Aims: Patients with celiac disease (CD) commonly use supplements for perceived health benefits despite scant evidence. We aimed to characterize the prevalence and predictors of probiotic use among CD patients.
Methods: We analyzed data from iCureCeliac®; a patient-powered research network questionnaire distributed by the Celiac Disease Foundation. We included adults with self-reported CD who answered questions regarding demographics, diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. We compared probiotic users versus probiotic non-users and subsequently performed multivariable logistic regression, assessing for independent predictors of probiotic use.
Results: 4,909 patients met the criteria for inclusion in the study. Of these, 1,160 (23.6%) responded to a question regarding probiotic use. The mean age of participants was 38.8 years and 82% were female. 381 patients (33%) reported using probiotics. More probiotic users sought nutritional counseling at time of diagnosis (36% vs. 30%, p=0.05) and remained symptomatic despite a gluten-free diet (40% vs. 25%, p <0.001). Probiotic users had lower scores on the pain subscale of the SF36 (63.7±21.6 vs. 69.5±22.1, p=0.006). On multivariable analysis, patients diagnosed after age 50 (OR=2.04, 95%CI: 1.37-3.04), and those with persistent symptoms despite a gluten-free diet (OR=1.94, 95%CI: 1.44-2.63) were more likely to use probiotics.
Conclusion: In this large study of a national CD registry, roughly one-third of CD patients reported using probiotics. Patients diagnosed later in life were more likely to use probiotics and those who remained symptomatic despite a gluten-free diet were twice as likely to take probiotics. Patients may be seeking additional means of treatment for persistent symptoms.