LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Celiac is one of the most prevalent genetic autoimmune diseases in the world and it’s frequently misdiagnosed because there are more than 300 symptoms.
The symptoms can include stomach pain, fatigue, rashes, infertility and depression.
More than 3 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease and there is no cure. The only treatment is a strict gluten free diet. For a celiac, eating the smallest amount of gluten will break down the gut and cause malnutrition.
“People with celiac disease have a four times greater risk of cancer, of stomach cancers, and double the risk of heart disease. And unfortunately there was a study that just came out from Columbia University that shows people with celiac disease even on a gluten free diet have a slightly increased risk of mortality,” said CEO Marilyn Geller, Celiac Disease Foundation.
Eating at a restaurant is always tricky for celiacs because of contamination. A Las Vegas family has been working for years to perfect their own recipes. The Harkins family owns Mrs. Bickel’s Gluten Free Baking Company.
They’ve been gluten free for almost 30 years, for most of that time, there were very few gluten free options.
“Growing up it was next to impossible and even with gluten free options it’s hard to know it’s completely safe. Since I can remember, we’ve always been working to create a pizza crust that doesn’t taste like it’s gluten free but that is gluten free,” said Keeley Harkins, Mrs. Bickel’s Gluten Free Baking Company.
Keeley and her mom both have celiac. They now sell their pizza crust to restaurants in Las Vegas and across the country. They also make desserts and breads.
There’s been an effort underway for years to develop a drug for treatment. The Celiac Disease Foundation says there are a couple of promising drugs in trial right now.