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Study: Respiratory, GI infections may indicate risk for celiac disease

A study conducted in Norway indicates children who have 10 or more respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in their first 18 months of life may have an increased risk for celiac disease.

According to an Oct. 2 report in HealthDay News, the study found such children were 30% more likely to develop celiac disease than kids who had fewer than five infections. The researchers also found youngsters with repeated respiratory infections were at greater risk than those with repeated gastrointestinal infections.

“We think there are many pieces to the puzzle that must fit together for someone to develop celiac disease, where heredity, gluten intake and possibly many other environmental factors are important,” study first author Karl Marild, MD, PhD, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, said in an institute news release.

“Perhaps having frequent infections in early life influences the immune system so that it is subsequently more likely to react to gluten.”

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between multiple infections and celiac disease. Researchers said it’s possible children who had more infections were more likely to be diagnosed with celiac because they spent much more time in the healthcare system. However, the study noted that previous research also suggested infections might boost the risk of celiac disease.

“We cannot rule out that the association found may somewhat have been influenced by increased healthcare surveillance, including diagnostic workup for celiac disease, among the children with high infection frequency,” Marild said in the institute release.

People with celiac disease can’t eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. If someone with celiac eats gluten, it triggers a damaging immune-system response in their bodies, according to the researchers.

The researchers analyzed information from nearly 73,000 children born in Norway between 2000 and 2009. The average follow-up time was 8.5 years. Just under 1% of the children eventually developed celiac disease, according to the study.

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By | 2015-10-16T15:45:17-04:00 October 16th, 2015|Categories: Nursing News, Nursing Specialties|1 Comment

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Sallie Jimenez
Sallie Jimenez is content manager for healthcare for from Relias. She develops and edits content for the blog, which covers industry news and trends in the nursing profession and healthcare. She also develops content for the Digital Editions. She has more than 25 years of healthcare journalism, content marketing and editing experience.

One Comment

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    Chud Daniel November 1, 2015 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    The researchers seem to have missed the point. These multiple infections were probably treated with antibiotics which destroy the normal gut flora. This environment allows or actually encourages the inflammation that later becomes celiac disease. Further investigation would probably show that many of these kids are gluten sensitive or intolerant. It’s not the infections that lead to celiac, it’s the antibiotic treatment. Probiotics and gluten avoidance may well alleviate the symptoms.

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