Kids' Birth Month Seems to Be Linked to Celiac Disease:
SUNDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Celiac disease is more common
among children born in the spring and summer months, according to a
new study from the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.
The findings suggest that the higher incidence of this
autoimmune disease may be related to a combination of seasonal and
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder triggered by consuming
the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread and other
foods containing wheat, barley or rye. It can damage the small
intestine and make it difficult to absorb certain nutrients,
causing problems ranging from abdominal pain to nerve damage.
Examining data on 382 Massachusetts children diagnosed with
celiac disease at between 11 months and 19 years of age,
researchers found that in the 15- to 19-year-old set, birth season
appeared to make no difference. But among 317 children younger than
15 years of age, 57 percent were born in the "light" season of
March through August, compared with 43 percent who were born in the
"dark" season of September through February.
Even though the exact cause of celiac disease is unknown,
potential triggers include the timing of infants' introduction to
gluten, and viral infections contracted during the first year of
life. The study's findings suggest the season of a child's birth is
another potential risk factor for the disease.
The researchers pointed out that infants are generally
introduced to solid foods containing gluten at around 6 months of
age, which for spring and summer babies would coincide with cold
and flu season.
Based on the findings, the study's lead researcher, Dr. Pornthep
Tanpowpong, said that the age at which gluten is first offered to
some babies may need to be altered.
"If you're born in the spring or the summer, it might not be appropriate to introduce gluten at the same point as someone born in the fall or winter," said Tanpowpong. "Although we need to further develop and test our hypothesis, we think it provides a helpful clue for ongoing efforts to prevent celiac disease."
The study also noted that exposure to sunlight may also play a
role in celiac disease, since vitamin D deficiency has been
associated with the disease.
The study is slated for presentation Sunday in Chicago during
Digestive Disease Week, an international gathering sponsored by the
American Gastroenterological Association and other
Because the study was presented at a medical meeting and is
small, its findings should be considered preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal and confirmed in other
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides detailed information
celiac disease in children.
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