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  • Jefferson Adams

    Season of Birth May Increase Celiac Disease Risk

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    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.

    Photo: CC--rkramer62A 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.



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    To better answer the question, a research team recently set out to conduct a more thorough study of the relationship between birth month and celiac disease.

    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.

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    I have not been diagnosed with celiac disease. However, I had not eaten any gluten in almost 6 months when biopsies were done. The GI doctor told me it wasn't worth it to me to eat gluten and then do biopsies. I do react strongly with only minute amounts of gluten. I had always been told I had IBS until I was 68 years old. Since then, I've read all I could find on it. This article was enlightening, but not helpful to me. I was born in November.

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    Guest Claire Spina-Kelly

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    I am born in November and I have celiac disease. So the 54% born in the summer have celiac disease and I am in the other 52.7%. I am suffering terribly and I sure hope they can find a cure.

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    Um, I don't think 1.35% is a significant enough difference to make any kind of conclusions. It seems like the Confidence Intervals would probably overlap, leaving no difference at all.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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