Difference in Celiac Disease Risk Between Swedish Birth Cohorts Suggests an Opportunity for Primary Prevention

Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 09/2008; 122(3):528-34. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2007-2989
Source: PubMed


Sweden experienced a unique epidemic of celiac disease in children <2 years of age. The epidemic was partly explained by changes in infant feeding over time and indicated a multifactorial pathogenesis. The main aim of this study was to analyze celiac disease risk in epidemic and postepidemic birth cohorts up to preschool age, to explore further the opportunity for primary prevention.
A population-based incidence register of celiac disease in children covering the entire nation from 1998 to 2003 and part of the country back to 1973 was analyzed. European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition diagnostic criteria for celiac disease were used. The annual incidence rate for each age group and the cumulative incidence according to age for each birth cohort were calculated.
A considerable difference in cumulative incidences of celiac disease at comparable ages was demonstrated between birth cohorts from the epidemic and postepidemic periods. The difference persisted during the preschool years, although it decreased somewhat with age. During the last years of the follow-up period, there was again a successive increase in incidence rate among children <2 years of age.
The difference in celiac disease risk between birth cohorts at comparable ages suggests an opportunity for primary prevention. This highlights the importance of further exploring the role of infant feeding and exogenous factors besides dietary gluten that might initiate or prevent disease development. Moreover, on the basis of postepidemic incidence trends, we speculate that the Swedish epidemic might not have been as unique as thought previously, although its magnitude was striking.

Download full-text


Available from: Olle Hernell
  • Source
    • "Differences in population coverage may not have introduced any major biases, since our findings for the period from 1973 to 1990, with 15% coverage of the total child population are comparable to findings from an earlier national wide study conducted during the same period [13]. We have also previously shown that 40% coverage was sufficient for estimating the national CD incidence [12]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Celiac disease (CD) is a major public health problem with estimated 1-3% prevalence in the general population. In recent years an increase in CD prevalence has been reported both in Sweden and worldwide. This study aimed at examining the annual incidence rate of biopsy-proven celiac disease among children in Sweden over a 36-year period, to assess variations by age, sex and birth cohort, and to assess the clinical impact of these changes. The National Swedish Childhood CD Register was used to identify 9107 children aged 0-14.9 years who were diagnosed with CD during the period 1973 to 2009. From 1973 to 1990 the register covered 15% of the nation, this increased to 40% during 1991-1997; a full national coverage was obtained from 1998 onwards. Estimations for the annual incidence rate, cumulative incidence and clinical impact by age groups, calendar month and birth cohorts were made. CD incidence is continuing to increase in the child population aged 2-14.9 years. A continued variation in CD incidence was observed in children aged 0-1.9 years, characterized by a marked decrease in most recent years. The median age at diagnosis has increased from 1.0 year in the 1970s to 6.8 years in 2009. The average number of new cases has risen from ~200 during 1973-1983 to ~600 during 2004-2009. In the birth cohorts of 2000-2002 the cumulative incidence even exceeded that of the epidemic cohorts at comparable ages. The highest cumulative incidence was observed in the birth cohorts of 1985-1995 and 2000-2002. CD risk varies between birth cohorts, suggesting cyclic environmental and/or lifestyle risk factors in CD etiology. More research on underlying risk factors is required in order to move forward with preventive strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · BMC Gastroenterology
  • Source
    • "Dietary habits also depend on the availability, convenience, cost and palatability of GF substitute products( 34 ). With the large increase in CD in Sweden( 15 , 38 ), the supply of GF products in grocery stores, restaurants and other venues is improving, possibly making it easier to adjust to the new diet. In addition, the sensory qualities of these foods are also improving, and prices are going down, which is a positive development given the usually much higher cost of GF alternatives( 39 ). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A dietary survey was performed during a large screening study in Sweden among 13-year-old adolescents. The aim was to study how the intake of food groups was affected by a screening-detected diagnosis of coeliac disease (CD) and its gluten-free (GF) treatment. Food intake was reported using a FFQ, and intake reported by the adolescents who were diagnosed with CD was compared with the intake of two same-aged referent groups: (i) adolescents diagnosed with CD prior to screening; and (ii) adolescents without CD. The food intake groups were measured at baseline before the screening-detected cases were aware of their CD, and 12-18 months later. The results showed that food intakes were affected by screen-detected CD and its dietary treatment. Many flour-based foods were reduced such as pizza, fish fingers and pastries. The results also indicated that bread intake was lower before the screened diagnosis compared with the other studied groups, but increased afterwards. Specially manufactured GF products (for example, pasta and bread) were frequently used in the screened CD group after changing to a GF diet. The present results suggest that changing to a GF diet reduces the intake of some popular foods, and the ingredients on the plate are altered, but this do not necessarily include a change of food groups. The availability of manufactured GF replacement products makes it possible for adolescents to keep many of their old food habits when diagnosed with CD in Sweden.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014
  • Source
    • "While a general increase over time in celiac disease occurrence has been recognized in several countries, a more complex pattern is apparent in Sweden. Between 1984 and 1996, celiac disease incidence displayed an epidemic pattern among children below two years of age consisting of a rapid four-fold increase in incidence rate followed by an equally abrupt decline one decade later [7,8]. The reasons behind the epidemic are still not fully understood, but approximately 45% of the cause was attributed to changes in infant feeding [9]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Celiac disease is defined as a ‘chronic small intestinal immune-mediated enteropathy precipitated by exposure to dietary gluten in genetically predisposed individuals’. Sweden has experienced an “epidemic” of celiac disease in children below two years of age. Celiac disease etiology is considered multifactorial; however, little is known regarding potential risk- or protecting factors. We present data on the possible association between early infectious episodes and celiac disease, including their possible contribution to the Swedish celiac disease epidemic. Methods A population-based incident case-referent study (475 cases, 950 referents) with exposure information obtained via a questionnaire (including family characteristics, infant feeding, and the child’s general health) was performed. Celiac disease cases were diagnosed before two years of age, fulfilling the diagnostic criteria of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Referents were randomly selected from the national population register after fulfilling matching criteria. The final analyses included 954 children, 373 (79%) cases and 581 (61%) referents, with complete information on main variables of interest in a matched set of one case with one or two referents. Results Having three or more parental-reported infectious episodes, regardless of type of infection, during the first six months of life was associated with a significantly increased risk for later celiac disease, and this remained after adjusting for infant feeding and socioeconomic status (odds ratio [OR] 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.0; P=0.014). The celiac disease risk increased synergistically if, in addition to having several infectious episodes, infants were introduced to dietary gluten in large amounts, compared to small or medium amounts, after breastfeeding was discontinued (OR 5.6; 95% CI, 3.1-10; P<0.001). Conclusion This study suggests that having repeated infectious episodes early in life increases the risk for later celiac disease. In addition, we found a synergistic effect between early infections and daily amount of gluten intake, more pronounced among infants for whom breastfeeding had been discontinued prior to gluten introduction. Regarding contribution to the Swedish celiac disease epidemic, which partly was attributed to concurrent changes in infant feeding, early infections probably made a minor contribution via the synergistic effect with gluten amount.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · BMC Pediatrics
Show more