A study from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, USA, has provided the first indication that rotavirus infections may increase the risk of coeliac disease in genetically predisposed children.
It has long been suspected that intestinal infections might contribute to the development of coeliac disease but few studies have looked at the role of specific infectious agents.
In this study, 1,931 children from the Denver, US, metropolitan area who are genetically susceptible to coeliac disease were monitored from infancy for the development of the disease and rotavirus infection. The latter is a gastrointestinal infection which is a leading cause of severe diarrhoea in infants and young children and which 75% of US children get before they reach age five.
Fifty four of the children from the study developed coeliac disease at an average of 4.4 years of age and the greatest risk was seen in those who had had the most rotavirus infections, the risk doubling in those children who had experienced two or more infections.
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