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Young children who receive the rotavirus vaccine may be less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than children who do not get this childhood vaccination,

according to Australian researchers.

Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus that causes diarrhea. It is very common among children under the age of five. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that babies between six and 32 weeks old be vaccinated against rotavirus.

For this study, which was published in the January 2019 issue of JAMA Pediatrics, researchers compared rates of type 1 diabetes in Australian children during the eight years before and the eight years after 2007. This was the year Australia introduced an oral rotavirus vaccine for infants six weeks of age and older.

They found that type 1 diabetes diagnoses in children under four years old declined after the vaccination was introduced. This was the first time the rate of type 1 diabetes in young children in Australia had fallen since the 1980s. In comparison, the rate of type 1 diabetes did not fall in children aged five to 14, most of whom had not been vaccinated for rotavirus.

The study builds on earlier research that suggests rotavirus infections may trigger autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes. However, more studies are needed to confirm whether the rotavirus vaccine can actually prevent type 1 diabetes.

(This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Summer 2019)

Author: Elizabeth McCammon

Category Tags: Research;

Region: National

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