Winter babies and people born in places with shorter days and less sunlight might have a lower risk of developing celiac disease than peers born in warmer regions or seasons, a Swedish study suggests.
About one in 100 people have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. People with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. Left untreated, the condition can lead to complications such as malnutrition, low bone density, lactose intolerance and infertility.
While the exact causes of celiac disease are unknown, some previous research has pointed to the potential for the season of one’s birth to be among many environmental factors that might influence the risk, said lead study author Fredinah Namatovu, a public health researcher at the Umea University in Sweden.
“Season of birth and area of birth appears to play a role,” Namatovu said by email. “Season and region of birth could be a proxy for other factors such as vitamin D and viral infections.”