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New Evidence for Birth Season and Region as Risk Factors for Celiac Disease


Photo: CC--Akinori Yamada

Celiac.com 09/09/2016 - Celiac disease incidence has increased in recent decades. How much do sex, age at diagnosis, year of birth, month of birth and region of birth have to do with celiac disease risk?

A team of researchers recently conducted a nationwide prospective cohort longitudinal study to examine the association between celiac disease diagnosis and season of birth, region of birth and year of birth. The research team included Fredinah Namatovu, Marie Lindkvist, Cecilia Olsson, Anneli Ivarsson, and Olof Sandström. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Food and Nutrition, the Department of Clinical Sciences, Pediatrics, and the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health at Umeå University in Umeå, Sweden.

Their study included 1,912,204 children aged 0–14.9 years born in Sweden from 1991 to 2009. They found a total of 6,569 children diagnosed with biopsy-verified celiac disease from 47 pediatric departments. The team used Cox regression to examine the association between celiac disease diagnosis and season of birth, region of birth and year of birth.

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They found that children born during spring, summer and autumn had higher celiac disease risk, as compared with children born during winter: adjusted HR for spring 1.08 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.16), summer 1.10 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.18) and autumn 1.10 (95% CI 1.02 to 1.18). Increased celiac disease risk was highest for children born in the south, followed by central Sweden, as compared with children born in northern Sweden.

The birth cohort of 1991–1996 had increased celiac disease risk if born during spring, for the 1997–2002 birth cohort the risk increased for summer and autumn births, while for the birth cohort of 2003–2009 the risk was increased if born during autumn.

Both independently and together, season of birth and region of birth are associated with increased risk of developing celiac disease during the first 15 years of life. These seasonal differences in risk levels are likely due to seasonal variation in infectious disease exposure.

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