Study Links Celiac Disease to Childhood Infections
Rates of celiac – an autoimmune disorder that causes intestinal damage in response to dietary gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley – are rising and researchers aren’t sure why. Some studies have suggested that childhood infections may play a role in the development of celiac diseases.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy and published in Pediatrics, people at increased risk for celiac who develop respiratory infections during the first two years of life have a higher incidence of the disease. More research is needed, but it may be that early respiratory infections stimulate a genetically predisposed immune reaction that causes gluten intolerance.
The exact prevalence of celiac disease is unknown, but it’s estimated that it affects about one in 141 people in the United States. Worldwide, about 1 percent of the population is thought to have celiac.