Anthropometric parameters and catch-up growth were prospectively evaluated in fifty late-diagnosed children with coeliac disease aged 2·25–10 years after 1–4 years of adhering to a strict gluten-free diet (GFD). The anthropometric parameters were expressed as Z scores relative to National Centre for Health Statistics standards using Epi Info 2000 (weight-for-height Z score (WHZ) and height-for-age Z score (HAZ)). Catch-up growth was evaluated by repeated measures. ANOVA, overall significance by an F test and pair-wise comparisons for estimated marginal means using the least significant difference. At the time of enrolment, no significant difference was observed in WHZ and HAZ between children diagnosed before (group 1) or after (group 2) 4 years of age. On follow-up, HAZ was significantly higher in group 1 after the first and third years of the GFD (P=0·04 and 0·02, respectively), with a non-significant increase after completing 4 years of the GFD (P=0·22). Feeding the GFD resulted in an overall significant (F=3·99, P=0·011) increase in HAZ up to 4 years of follow-up. However, the catch-up in height was incomplete, with stunting in sixteen (55·4 %) of twenty-nine children after 3 years and in seven (46·6 %) of fifteen children after 4 years on the GFD. Pair-wise comparisons demonstrated a linear catch-up growth during the initial follow-up on GFD. Treatment with the GFD did not result in an overall significant increase in WHZ up to 4 years of follow-up (F=1·01, P=0·42). Our results suggest that, in children with late-diagnosed coeliac disease, treatment with a GFD leads to a normalisation of body mass and a significant but incomplete recovery in HAZ during 4 years of follow-up.
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