Recap: As we have talked about in previous blog posts, Celiac Disease is a digestive disorder which results in immune activity. As a result, when gluten is eaten, immune cells attack the small intestine and cause damage.

But let’s dig a little deeper into the “how’s” and “why’s” of this disease —how does one get the disease— can you be genetically predisposed to getting it? Is it hereditary?

Hereditary means that you inherit this disease – that means that the gene for Celiac Disease is passed down to you from either or both of your parents.

What are genes?

If you’ve been reading this post and need a refresher on what genes are, genes are an essential component of making you, you. Genes are the sequences of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which carry genetic information. Genes have the information that determine things you can see physically, such as hair and color, and things that you can’t see, like things that go on in your body such as digestion and muscle movement.

Is Celiac Disease Heritable?

Although research has shown that having certain genes can increase the risk of developing Celiac Disease, having these genes does not mean that you will automatically develop the disease. However, these genes cause a predisposition of getting the disease – this genetic predisposition is something you must be born with. You cannot develop an increased relative risk, or greater likelihood of developing the gene, later on in life.

In Celiac Disease, there are a couple main genes that are involved which play an important role in making proteins for the immune system. If you have these genes, there is an increased chance that you will have self-immune cells attack self-cells instead of foreign cells (autoimmunity).

Celiac Disease commonly is found within the same family so if someone in your immediate family – like a parent or sibling – has the disease, then that individual has a 1 in 10 likelihood of developing the disease.

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