WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and U.S. Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) today praised the unanimous passage of their legislation (S.Res.314) designating September 13, 2007 “National Celiac Disease Awareness Day”.
“Celiac disease hits very close to home for me as I have a staffer with the disease and an Oklahoma Celiac Support Group working to promote awareness in my great state,” Senator Inhofe said. “There are many groups and organizations working to promote celiac disease, and we applaud all their efforts. Awareness can go a long way toward diagnosing and treating the millions of sufferers of celiac disease both in my home state of Oklahoma and across the nation.”
“Due to the fact that this disease is often misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed, the need for awareness is critically important,” said Senator Ben Nelson. “Accurate information and outreach efforts are needed to ensure the continued health of people afflicted with this disease. This resolution is one step in helping Americans learn more about this common disease.”
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that creates intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, as well as some medicines and vitamins. Despite the fact that one in 130 healthy people have celiac disease, and the fact that it is easily detectable, the symptoms are often attributed to other conditions as many doctors lack sufficient knowledge about the disease.
Failure to properly diagnose celiac disease could lead to damage to the small intestine and malnutrition. The good news is that the treatment (following a gluten-free diet) for celiac disease is highly effective. In most sufferers, the small intestines heal completely.