Fewer children with celiac disease, a positive and unexpected effect of the rotavirus vaccine

A study to find out what percentage of the population has celiac disease in Catalonia had surprising results. Researchers at Terrassa Mutual Hospital compared data from 2004 to 2007 with that from 10 years later. In children aged one to five years, the incidence of celiac disease was reduced by half.

Reviewing the different variables, the explanation with the greatest weight is Rotavirus vaccine was circulated during this timeaccording to theA study published in the Journal of Nutrients.

This vaccine has gone from being novel to being taken by half of all children, though It is not funded by public health The parents have to pay for it.

In this way, vaccinated children are not only protected, but actually protected It creates a herd immunity effectBecause the virus spreads less. It is the virus – not the vaccine itself – that is involved in celiac disease, as Maria Esteve, head of the gastroenterology service at Terrassa Mutual Hospital, explained: “What the vaccine does is that the percentage of children who have rotavirus infection is lower.”

If you are not infected, you are less likely to get the disease if you are predisposed to it

Why does this phenomenon occur?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that destroys the intestinal mucosa and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients. Those who suffer from it are intolerant to gluten. It has a genetic component, but it needs something else to activate it.

This is how Maria Esteve explains it: “There are 20% of the population that have genes that predispose them to celiac disease, and on the other hand, 20% of the population do not have celiac disease.”

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For the disease to occur there must be some triggers, such as viral infections, explains Roger Garcia Puig, head of the Department of Pediatrics at Terrassa Mutual Hospital.

“Because rotavirus is a virus that causes a lot of inflammation in the intestines, there are patients whose celiac disease symptoms begin immediately after gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus.”

The researchers used exactly the same methodology to collect data 10 years apart. They say that the population analyzed is representative of the Catalan population in general. For all this, they consider their findings They have great scientific solidity.

A reaction to gluten can start at an early age if they are exposed to rotavirus (iStock)

The effect has already been observed

When clinical trials of the rotavirus vaccine were conducted about 20 years ago, a similar result was also seen. Children who received the vaccine were significantly less likely to develop celiac disease than children who received a placebo.

In general, celiac disease was thought to be a disease of increasing rather than decreasing lifespan in children. The thing is that It is now diagnosed much better than it was a while ago Hence more cases of it are found than before.

Roger Garcia Puig explains that typical cases of celiac disease were being diagnosed: “A child with abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and weight loss.” Now, he says, “kids with very mild symptoms” are being diagnosed from primary care.

“Pediatricians already have a very sharp eye, and at the slightest symptoms, they diagnose it in children.”

What is rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis. In infants, the first infection can cause a very serious infection, causing the child to become dehydrated and require medical care and admission to the pediatric intensive care unit.

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The disease is Serious, but not fatal In environments like ours, with strong healthcare systems, unlike other low-income countries.

Partly for this reason, although pediatricians recommend it in Catalonia This vaccine is not included Within the schedule of systematic vaccinations funded by public health.

This study, conducted by researchers in Mutua di Terrassa, indicates another value – although not the main value – of the vaccine.

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