Vaccines Not Linked to Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is not associated with childhood vaccines

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Celiac disease involves an allergy to gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye. It's an autoimmune disease that some fear can be triggered by vaccines.

Because Sweden saw an epidemic of celiac disease from 1984 to 1996, a group of Swedish researchers investigated whether changes in the immunization schedule could have played a part in the quadrupling of celiac disease cases which strangely and suddenly dropped a decade later.

Their analysis of the national vaccine schedule and the rates of celiac disease revealed no connection, which meant the vaccines did not have anything to do with the celiac disease cases.

"Keep your child up to date with immunization schedules."

In a study led by Anna Myléus, MD, of the Departments of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health at Umeå University in Sweden, researchers used the National Swedish Childhood Celiac Disease Register for the years 1973 to 2003 to look at changes in the celiac disease rates over time.

They compared a population of 392 babies with celiac disease to 623 babies from the general population who shared similar demographics.

Using questionnaires and child health clinic records, the researchers compared the celiac disease rates to changes in the national vaccination program.

The vaccines they specifically included in their study were those for diphtheria-tetanus, acellular pertussis, inactivated polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis.

They found that the pertussis vaccine was introduced about the time that rates of celiac disease were decreasing.

However, no association was found between the rates of celiac disease and the administration of the pertussis, MMR or Hib vaccines.

Receiving the BCG shot seemed to result in a lower risk of developing celiac disease, but when Sweden discontinued BCG shots, the researchers did not find any related change in celiac disease rates.

"Early vaccinations within the national Swedish program were not associated with CD risk, nor could changes in the program explain the Swedish epidemic," they concluded.

The study was published June 25 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, the Swedish Research Council, Medicine and Health, and Västerbotten County Council. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 6, 2012
Last Updated:
December 21, 2012