Increases in the number of children with celiac disease in Sweden are not associated with increases in the number of vaccinations received there, according to a study published online.
Between 1984 and 1996, Swedish health officials reported a fourfold increase in celiac disease among infants, “followed by an equally abrupt decline one decade later,” the researchers wrote. Changes in feeding patterns help to explain some of the changes, the researchers wrote, but this study set out to explore whether changes in vaccination recommendations may have played a role.
Anna Myleus, MD, of the departments of public health and clinical medicine at the Umea University, and colleagues compared data derived from the National Swedish Childhood Celiac Disease Register with information about the introduction of different vaccines, like acellular pertussis and Haemophilus influenzae type b, bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and measles-mumps-rubella.
“In our study, childhood vaccinations were not risk factors for celiac disease, suggesting that with respect to this chronic autoimmune disease, vaccinations are safe,” Myleus told Infectious Diseases in Children.
The researchers reported no increased risk for celiac disease with administration of any of the vaccines. Rather, the researchers said that BCG coverage actually had a slight protective effect on celiac disease, but they concluded that this association requires further study.
“One of the consequences of the epidemic was shown by screening children born in 1993 at 12 years of age, revealing a [celiac disease] prevalence of 3%,” the researchers noted. “This remarkably high prevalence emphasizes the need to understand what caused the epidemic. The current study excludes one possible candidate factor.”
Disclosure: Dr. Myleus reports no relevant financial disclosures.