A new study has found that children with some autoimmune diseases have an increased risk of asthma. In the study, Dr. Jukka Kero of Ruprecht-Karls-University at Heidelberg in Germany and colleagueslooked at health records for all children born in Finland in 1987, including more than 60,000 youngsters.The team checked the prevalence of asthma in children with three autoimmune conditions : celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Celiac disease is an inherited inability to digest the wheat protein gluten. It can lead to digestive problems, muscle wasting and lethargy. Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating condition in which the immune system attacks the tissue lining the joints. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed, making it necessary for a person to take injections of the blood-sugar-regulating hormone.
Kero and colleagues found that 25% of children with celiac disease had asthma, compared with about 3% of children without celiac disease. While 10% of children with rheumatoid arthritis also had asthma, only 3% of children without rheumatoid arthritis did. Asthma was also more common among children with type 1 diabetes than among those who did not have this condition, but the difference was not statistically significant.