Coeliac disease linked to weaning in winter, Swiss research

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th August 2016

Swedish researchers have discovered where and when a person is born can either increase or decrease their chances of developing Coeliacs disease.

Published in Volume 101, Issue 8, of the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the scientists studied almost 2 million Swedish children to discover those born in Spring, Summer and Autumn had 10 per cent more of a chance as being diagnosed as Coeliac.

Children born in the south of Sweden, where the sunlight in spring and summer can be strong, are more likely to develop the disease than those born in the northern part of Sweden.

Risk of Coeliac disease was consistently higher among girls than it was among boys for all time periods and seasons.

How could the time and place of birth increase the likeliness of developing coeliac disease?

Although the studying is observational, the scientists suspect more children born in the spring and summer develop Coeliac’s disease as they are more likely to be weaned and introduced to gluten during autumn or winter, a time characterised by exposure to seasonal viral infections.

“Viral infections alter intestinal bacteria and increase the permeability of cells lining the gut, which could prompt the development of coeliac disease,” the scientists said.

Low levels of vitamin D have also previously been linked to immune related diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes.

“A remaining possible link to sunlight and vitamin D is that pregnant women who give birth in spring have the lowest levels of vitamin D during late gestation when important programming and development of the foetal immune system takes place,” the researchers suggest.