Celiac.com 07/21/2017 - In previous studies, a team of scientists led by Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler had already shown an association between infections in early childhood and the development of type 1 diabetes. In that study, the researchers saw the highest risk for type 1 diabetes in children who experienced repeated respiratory infections in the first six months of life.
Recently, Zeigler and another team of colleagues from the Institute for Diabetes Research at Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), set out to determine whether infections during infancy are associated with increased risk for celiac disease later on.
To a lesser extent, an increased disease risk was also seen in connection with early respiratory tract infections. The risk seems to be particularly high for people who experience repeated gastrointestinal infections in the first year of life.
Whether the connections with early infections and later celiac risk are causal or are based on changes in the microbiome or specific immune responses is not clear from the data, said first author Dr. Andreas Beyerlein.
"However," Beyerlein added, "it seems that the increased risk of celiac disease is associated with a permanent inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract in early childhood and is not caused by a specific viral or bacterial pathogen."
The team reached their conclusion after analyzing fully anonymized data provided by the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Bayern) of 295,420 children who were born between 2005 and 2007.
Medically attended infections from birth until a median age of 8.5 years were considered in the analysis. A total of 853 children developed gluten intolerance, equivalent to 0.3 percent.
Their results appear in the American Journal of Epidemiology.