Rotavirus is a common contagious virus that mainly causes diarrhea in children (i.e. gastroenteritis). Additionally, rotavirus has been linked to type 1 diabetes (T1D) as, in predisposed persons, it could both accelerate the destruction of beta cells and to promote islet autoimmunity; two essential features of T1D.
Recently a group of researchers from the United States studied the relationship between rotavirus vaccination and the prevalence (frequency of a disease in the population) of T1D between the years 2001 and 2017. (1) They reported finding a significant 37% reduction in T1D in children who received the entire rotavirus vaccination series compared to those who did not receive it or received only a partial dose. These findings support reports from an earlier Australian study that examined the prevalence of T1D in the eight years before and again 8 years after the rotavirus vaccine started being used. (2) They found that the rate of T1D decreased by 15 percent in the years following the vaccine’s introduction in children at 4 years or younger, however other data for that study suggest that it the vaccine could delay rather than prevent T1D.
The vaccine has been recommended for use in Quebec since 2010.There are no reports on whether the introduction of the vaccine correlated with a change in T1D diagnosis in the province as of yet. (3)
Though multiple studies have suggested that infections could trigger the onset of T1D in predisposed persons these two studies are among the most convincing and suggest that rotavirus infection is a strong candidate and that vaccination might reduce or delay the risk of T1D.
- Rogers, M., Basu, T., & Kim, C. (2019). Lower incidence rate of type 1 diabetes after receipt of the rotavirus vaccine in the united states, 2001-2017. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 7727-7727. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44193-4
- Perrett KP, Jachno K, Nolan TM, Harrison LC. Association of rotavirus vaccination with the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173:280–282. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.4578.
- Québec Immunization Program https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/vaccination/quebec-immunisation-program/