Celiac.com 02/20/2013 - Scientific evidence indicates that the risk of developing celiac disease cannot be explained solely by genetic factors. There is some evidence to support the idea that the season in which a child is born can influence the risk for developing celiac disease. It is known that babies born in summer months are likely to be weaned and introduced to gluten during winter, when viral infections are more frequent.
A number of studies indicate that early viral infections can increase risk levels for celiac disease, however, earlier studies on birth season and celiac disease have been small, and their results have been contradictory.
The research team included B. Lebwohl, P.H. Green, J.A. Murray, and J.F. Ludvigsson. The study was conducted through the Department of Paediatrics at Örebro University Hospital in Örebro, Sweden.
To conduct the study, the team used biopsy reports from all 28 Swedish pathology departments to identify individuals with celiac disease, which they defined as small intestinal villous atrophy (n=29 096).
Using the government agency Statistics Sweden the team identified 144,522 control subjects, who they matched for gender, age, calendar year and county.
The team then used conditional logistic regression to examined the association between summer birth (March-August) and later celiac disease diagnosis (outcome measure).
They found that 54.10% of people with celiac disease were born in the summer months compared with 52.75% of control subjects.
So, being born in the summer is associated with a slightly higher risk of later celiac disease (OR 1.06; 95% CI 1.03 to 1.08; p).
While summer birth was not associated with a higher rates of celiac diagnosis in later childhood (age 2-18 years: OR 1.02; 95% CI 0.97 to 1.08), it did show a slightly higher risk of developing celiac disease in adulthood (age ≥18 years: OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.07).
In this study, the data show that people born during the summer months had a slightly higher risk of developing celiac disease, but that excess risk was small, and general infectious disease exposure early in life were not likely to increase that risk.