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Seasonal Link to Celiac Disease Uncovered

Study says children born in spring and summer are at greater risk

THURSDAY, Dec. 26, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Children born in the spring and summer months -- March to August -- appear at greater risk of developing celiac disease than children born in the fall and winter -- September to February.

In a Swedish study published in the current Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers identified 2,151 children with celiac disease from a national register of child health covering the years 1973 to 1997.

They found the risk of celiac disease was significantly higher for children born in the spring and summer months, but only in children who were younger than two years old when they were diagnosed. The study found that this seasonal pattern was maintained during a 10-year epidemic of celiac disease.

People with celiac disease aren't able to eat foods that contain gluten -- wheat, rye, barley and oats -- because it damages their intestines.

The study findings suggest there may be a link between celiac disease and casual environmental exposures that change at certain times of the year. Infections may be an important form of exposure, either through a direct casual role or in interaction with other kinds of exposure, such as the intake of gluten.

But the study suggests non-infectious exposures also need to be examined as possible contributing factors to celiac disease. If such casual exposures can be identified, it could lead to development of prevention methods.

More Information

Here's where to learn more about celiac disease.

SOURCE: British Medical Association, news release, December 2002
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