Link Between Celiac And Birthplace?

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease have gotten a lot of people talking in the past few years, and rightfully so. The past 60 years have shown a huge increase in cases of celiac – it is now four times more common than it used to be. Scientists are looking into those huge numbers to determine the reasons behind the increase. According to a study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, risk for celiac can be determined by seemingly unrelated factors: where you were born, the season you were born, and where you grew up for the first 15 years of your life. Two of the biggest correlations that researchers have found have been viral infections and vitamin D.

A recently published study, conducted in Sweden, looked at almost 2 million children born between 1991 and 2009. 6,569 of them were diagnosed with celiac disease. It turns out that kids born in the spring (March-May) are at a 10% higher risk of having celiac and of being diagnosed before the age of 2. Kids born in the summer and autumn (June-November) are more likely to be diagnosed after two. Those birth periods that are at higher risk were tied to the amount and intensity of sunlight available and correlated to southern regions. Although no absolute conclusions were reached with this data, the study indicated that vitamin D levels and viral infections did seem to play a vital role in these numbers.

What does all this research mean? How does the season in which you’re born affect your chances of having celiac? The timing corresponds to babies being introduced to food in the winter, including gluten, which is also at the same time that they are exposed to viral infections. These infections can change intestinal bacteria and lead to negative reactions when gluten is consumed. In addition, low levels of vitamin D are commonly seen in women who give birth in the spring, which is a crucial developmental time for fetuses.

While this study is very interesting, the most important thing to keep in mind about celiac is to not self-diagnose. If you suspect that gluten has a negative effect on your body, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. The doctors at TDDC are specially trained to evaluate symptoms and help you live a better life when gluten is a problem. You can find a location near you here.