Megan Bomgaars Champions Celiac Research for Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and Megan Bomgaars, star of A&E’s Born This Way, have teamed up to continue the fight for further research of auto-immune disorders. Megan suffers from celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder that affects people with Down syndrome at a rate ten times greater than in the typical population. Megan launched Global’s celiac disease research and awareness campaign at the March 11th I Love You Dance Party where she danced the night away with 150 celebrants and encouraged fellow self-advocates to participate in a simple Down syndrome and celiac disease research program aptly named “Spit to be Fit!”

Through the Crnic Institute’s Grand Challenge Grant Program, Global funds research by Dr. Richard Spritz, M.D., Program Director for the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Spritz’ research could lead to a test that identifies people with Down syndrome who have the highest risk for celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders including type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, vitiligo, and rheumatoid arthritis. Early detection would allow early intervention and treatment and could have application to the broader population suffering from such autoimmune disorders.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the affected individual has a hypersensitivity to the protein gluten—commonly found in wheat, barley and rye—which, when digested, causes damage to the small intestine. In addition to the common uncomfortable symptoms, some celiac sufferers with Down syndrome have symptoms including anemia and behavioral changes. Megan knows the challenges of celiac disease all too well. Though there is no benefit to a gluten-free diet for those without a celiac disease diagnosis, due to the high incidence of celiac disease in individuals with Down syndrome, experts recommend they get screened for the disorder with a simple blood test.

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