Duodenal biopsy and tests for antigliadin antibodies were done in 108 children with short stature unassociated with gastrointestinal symptoms. Other investigations for causes of growth failure were also carried out. In 88 patients, the cause of short stature could not be determined (group I). In 9 patients (8·3%) biopsy showed total villous atrophy, indicating probable coeliac disease (group II), while 7 patients had mild partial villous atrophy (group III). 4 patients (3·7%) had complete growth hormone deficiency. Antigliadin antibodies detected by immunofluorescence (IFL-AGA) were positive in 8 of the 9 group II patients. Symptomless coeliac disease is therefore a commoner cause of short stature than is hypopituitarism; by use of the IFL-AGA test it is possible to select patients for biopsy, thereby identifying most of the coeliac patients. If duodenal biopsies had been limited to IFL-AGA positive patients, 18 biopsies would have been carried out and coeliac disease would have been diagnosed in 8 of the 9 patients.
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