Celiac.com 01/30/2019 - Children who receive the rotavirus vaccine may be less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than children who remain unvaccinated, a recent Australian study suggests. Rotavirus can cause severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. In some cases, the virus can leave kids with dehydration that is serious enough to require a hospital visit.
In May, 2007, health officials introduced a routine oral rotavirus vaccine for infants six weeks and older. In the most recent study, the research team compared rates of type 1 diabetes in the eight years before and the eight years after the vaccine was introduced.
The data showed that cases of type 1 diabetes cases declined 14 percent among children age four and younger in the period after the vaccine. The same data showed no significant change in type 1 diabetes cases among older kids. The study wasn’t set up to prove that rotavirus causes type 1 diabetes or how vaccination might help minimize this risk.
The findings are only preliminary, lead study author Dr. Kirsten Perrett of the University of Melbourne says that “rotavirus vaccination may be one of possibly many as yet unknown protective environmental and modifiable factors against the development of type 1 diabetes in early childhood.”
Perrett stresses that diabetes “has not been clearly linked to other modifiable lifestyle factors and cannot be prevented.” Rotavirus can interfere with insulin production in the pancreas, which could promote type 1 diabetes, Perrett said.
The study does add more data to support the idea that viral infections likely contribute to autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes and celiac disease in otherwise susceptible people, said Dr. Federico Martinon-Torres a researcher at Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago and Instituto de Investigacion Sanitaria de Santiago in Spain.
All infants who do not have severely compromised immune systems or a history of bowel obstruction should receive the rotavirus vaccine, says Martinon-Torres.
The good news about this study is that a vaccine that is routinely given to most infants seems to offer protection against type 1 diabetes.