Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) is authoring legislation designed to raise awareness about a disease that affects three million people in America. Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 7 will designate the month of May, 2011 as Celiac Disease Awareness Month in California.
Celiac disease, often referred to as gluten intolerance, is a genetic autoimmune disease that is triggered when an affected person consumes food that contains the protein gluten. An immune reaction occurs in the person’s small intestine that damages the tiny projections, or villi, that line the intestinal wall, thereby preventing effective nutrient absorption.
“Celiac disease is relatively unheard of despite its impact on so many people,” said Senator Huff. “It’s estimated that 97% of cases go undiagnosed and the average delay in diagnosis is nine years. This is a clear indication that we must do what we can to raise awareness.”
SCR 7 states that, “There is no cure or known cause for celiac disease, and the only treatment is close adherence to a gluten-free diet.” Celiac disease is known to be more commonly found in people with certain diseases like Type I diabetes, and if left untreated, can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility and certain types of cancer.
“Equal percentages of men and women are affected by celiac disease, and it can occur in men and women of all ages,” said Senator Huff. “Early detection of this disease is paramount. Children need to find out if they have celiac disease early on so that they can immediately be started on a gluten-free diet.”
Senator Huff’s resolution draws attention to organizations like the Celiac Disease Foundation, which have been working to educate the public about the disease and provide scholarships to celiac children to attend gluten-free summer camps.
“We can reduce the number of cases that go undiagnosed by promoting greater awareness of this serious disease,” said Senator Huff. “Designating May 2011 as Celiac Disease Awareness Month will certainly help to accomplish this”