Healthcare Burden in Greenland of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Adults with Inherited Loss of Sucrase-Isomaltase Function

Kristine Andersen*, Torben Hansen, Marit Eika Jørgensen, Ninna Senftleber

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Congenital sucrase isomaltase deficiency (CSID) is in general a very rare disease. However, 2-3% of the Greenlandic population are homozygous (HO) carriers of an Arctic-specific loss-of-function (LoF) variant in the sucrase-isomaltase (SI) encoding gene, causing CSID. The condition is characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomachache, diarrhea, and weight loss when consuming sucrose, the most common dietary sugar. However, the awareness of the condition in the population and the healthcare system seems to be limited, potentially leading to a higher healthcare burden. Hence, we aimed to investigate whether HO-carriers visit the healthcare system more with gastrointestinal symptoms compared to the control groups by using registry data. Methods: We performed a case-control study identifying cases and controls using genotype information from the 1999-2001 and 2005-2010 Greenlandic health population cohorts. The cases were defined as HO LoF SI-carriers and controls were defined as non-carriers and were matched (1:1) on sex, age, place of residence, and European genetic admixture. We used electronic medical records to assess the number of electronic medical record contacts (EMRc) related to gastrointestinal symptoms and the number of gastrointestinal-related diagnostic procedures. Results: A total of 80 HO-carriers and 80 non-carriers were included. The HO-carriers had 19% more EMRc related to gastrointestinal symptoms (IRR, 1.19, 95% CI [1.02;1.40], p=0.02) and had a 41% higher incidence of gastrointestinal related diagnostic procedures compared to controls (IRR, 1.41, 95% CI [1.05-1.92], p=0.02). Only one HO-carrier was aware of the condition according to the electronic medical records. Conclusion: HO-carriers of the LoF SI-variant had both significantly more gastrointestinal-related EMRc and significantly more diagnostic procedures conducted due to gastrointestinal symptoms. Only one HO-carrier was aware of the condition. Given the high prevalence of HO-carriers in the Greenlandic population, we anticipate that diagnosing more patients with CSID and providing dietary advice could potentially reduce symptom burden and healthcare visits among HO-carriers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplication of Clinical Genetics
Pages (from-to)15-21
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency
  • genetic metabolism
  • Greenland
  • Inuit
  • loss-of-function variant
  • sucrase-isomaltase


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