A Link Between Celiac Disease And Season Of Birth?

By Laura (The Gluten-Free Traveller)

Could the season in which someone is born be a factor in whether or not they develop celiac disease? Recent research suggests, possibly.

Scientists and researchers are always searching for new reasons for why the disease is triggered in some people and not others. An interesting article in the New York Times recently stated extremely eye-catching information:

“One hypothesis is that the season in which a person is born may influence the development of this digestive disorder (celiac disease)”

Some research suggests that babies born in spring and summer could be more susceptible to developing celiac disease.

But how could when we are born possibly be relevant to whether or not we develop celiac disease?

What if early exposure to infections plays a role in the body’s autoimmune response to gluten? Babies tend to start eating gluten containing foods at around 6 months old meaning that babies born in spring and summer would be first exposed to gluten in the winter, when cold and flu viruses are most common.

There have been a few other studies that backup this possibility. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children studied 2,000 people with confirmed celiac disease and found that more of them were born in spring than any other season.

A similar study in Sweden, which looked at over 2000 children with celiac disease, found that for children under the age of two at diagnosis, “the risk for celiac disease was significantly higher if born during the summer as compared with the winter.”

Interestingly studies have suggested that Type 1 diabetes, another autoimmune disorder, may also be triggered by viral infections.

Whether or not we have the genes necessary to develop celiac disease is obviously a huge factor but could when we were born affect our chances if we do have the celiac genes?

I’m celiac and I was born in the winter so in my case these conclusions don’t fit but perhaps I’m the odd one out. In which season were you born?



19 thoughts on “A Link Between Celiac Disease And Season Of Birth?”

  1. Both my kids have Celiac. One is a January baby and the other is a July baby, so I doubt their birth month had much to do with it…

  2. I think the title is misleading. It isn’t about when you were born, but rather when you were first “introduced” to gluten. If your first gluten coincided with something that triggered an autoimmune response, it is more likely that your immune system will confuse the gluten protein with a bacterium. That doesn’t necessarily break down easily by date of birth, since children may get gluten-containing foods at different ages depending on location and culture.

  3. I was born in December, as was my sister. We both have Celiacs. My husband was born in August & he also has Celiacs. So, I am not seeing a pattern here!

  4. I was born in late December.

    Near San Francisco. So the temps were somewhere in the 50s when I was born and somewhere in the high 60s six months later.

    Do Celiacs in Australia have an opposite reaction?

  5. My son, who has celiac and Type 1 diabetes, was born in September in So. California (still summer!) He did have a bad case of RSV and was hospitalized at age 6 months, although he was not diagnosed with diabetes until almost 9 yrs old.

  6. Perhaps they should investigate Zodiac signs or.. I know… moon phases. When gluten is intruduced into the diet makes a lot more sense to me.

  7. I have celiac disease and was born in early December, so this doesn’t really fit for me either. I could see that gluten introduction at certain age may be a trigger, but not a certain season.

  8. I have celiac disease and was born in early December, so this doesn’t really fit for me either. I could see that gluten introduction at certain age may be a trigger, but not a certain season.

  9. My daugher was born in June and introduced to wheat in the winter. I read somewhere about birth timing and exposure to Vitamin D. In this case we live in the Midwest so she was introduced to wheat in flu season as well as a time in which we spend more time indoors and have lack of Vitamin D. exposure. Maybe just one of many factors that contribute to the disease. She is the only one out of my four children (my husband and I don’t have it) with Celiac and no one in the extended family w/ my 7 siblings and 24 cousins have been diagnosed. Maybe she had the perfect storm.

  10. I don’t put much credence in this season-of-birth theory…but I do think that with a little more careful thought, researchers will find the common trigger for many of us.

    I was born in January–my older sister, in June. I was a cow’s milk baby–my sister was fed soy formula, simply because of having two different pediatricians. I really do believe that cow’s milk antibodies set me up for a lifetime of sensitivities and allergies. However, you can’t dismiss blood type, which is a factor in tendencies towards ulcers. I am type O and my sister is B.

    I have celiac, asthma, latex allergy and psoriasis, the latter of which appeared at age 4 after a case of untreated strep throat. My sister has developed none of these, after being raised on essentially the same diet as I was, once solid food was introduced.

    I’m sure that celiac will prove to be a combination of things….predisposition to allergies in general due to a flawed immune system…the more concentrated gluten in modern wheat [not to mention other genetic modifications and the lack of variety in the types of wheat in our food]…and yes–how and when and in what quantity gluten-containing foods are introduced to infants and toddlers. There might very well be a “threshold” trigger at a certain stage of development.

    It seems that we’ve reached a tipping point with regard to interest in celiac disease and gluten issues right now; in the coming years, there will either be more serious research, or the funding will dry up as the whole topic is dismissed as a fad. Sadly, if there is no sustained interest in research–especially towards finding a drug to neutralize the effects of gluten in the body–it’s hard to imagine who else would fund research that doesn’t make money.

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