Health In Focus
  • Infants who were administered the recommended doses of rotavirus vaccine are not only protected against stomach flu/diarrhea but are also at a lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes compared to unvaccinated or partially vaccinated babies
  • Although, rotavirus vaccine lowers risk of type 1 diabetes later, a definite cause-effect relationship cannot be established and more research is needed to confirm these findings
  • Type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes occurs in children and has no cure. Patients are dependent on insulin injections for the rest of their life and are at risk of complications to heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes and nerves over time

Rotavirus vaccination in infants not only prevents viral diarrhea or stomach flu but significantly reduces the risk of developing type 1 diabetes during childhood and adolescence, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan led by epidemiologist Mary A.M. Rogers, Ph.D.
Rotavirus Vaccine May Protect Children Against Type 1 Diabetes

The findings of the study appear in the journal Scientific Reports.

Link Between Rotavirus Vaccine & Type 1 Diabetes

  • The study team analyzed anonymous insurance data of 1.5 million American children born prior to and after the introduction of rotavirus vaccine in 2006 for comparison
  • Over 540,000 children born after 2006 had been given the complete series of rotavirus shots; nearly 141,000 obtained at least a single dose, while more than 246,000 did not receive the vaccine at all
  • Another set of children for comparison, born in the five years before the vaccine became available, included about 547,000 children
  • The risk of type 1 diabetes was particularly decreased among children who received all three doses of the pentavalent form of the vaccine compared to those who received two doses of the monovalent form. The pentavalent vaccine prevents infection by 5 types of rotavirus while the monovalent vaccine protects against one type
  • As a group, infants who received all three recommended doses of rotavirus vaccine had a 33% lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes compared to unvaccinated children
  • According to the study team, in absolute terms, 8 lesser cases of type 1 diabetes for every 100000 babies would be expected to occur each year with full vaccination
  • Partially vaccinated babies i.e. babies who started the vaccine series but did not complete the recommended doses, did not have a reduced risk of Type 1 diabetes
  • Of note, in almost all cases, the vaccine was free, compared to estimated millions of dollars in the total lifetime cost of managing a person with Type 1 diabetes
Thus, the findings of the study suggest that rotavirus vaccine may reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in children later in life, although a cause-effect relationship cannot be yet established.

"Five years from now, we will know much more," says Rogers. "The first groups of children to receive the rotavirus vaccine in the United States are now in grade school, when Type 1 diabetes is most often detected. Hopefully, in years to come, we'll have fewer new cases - but based on our study findings, that depends upon parents bringing in their children to get vaccinated."

The results of the current study echo the findings of a similar study in Australia that found a 14% reduction of type 1 diabetes after the rotavirus vaccine was introduced.

Here's How Rotavirus Vaccine Prevents Type 1 Diabetes

Previous studies have shown that rotavirus attacks the beta cells in the pancreas which have been shown to be damaged in persons with Type 1 diabetes. Thus, the vaccine might confer a protective effect on the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin.

About Rotavirus Vaccine

  • Rotavirus vaccine is given to infants to prevent rotavirus diarrhea which affects babies and can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting resulting in dehydration or fluid loss
  • Babies vaccinated against rotavirus had a 94% lesser rate of admission to hospital for rotavirus diarrhea, and a 31% lower rate of hospitalization due to any reason, especially in the first two months after immunization
  • Over 25% of American children don't get fully immunized against rotavirus, and the rate of vaccination differs widely across the country, with less than half of children in New England and Pacific states being fully immunized and 2/3rds of children in the central part of the country having been fully vaccinated
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, infants should be given the multi-dose vaccine starting before 15 weeks, and complete the full schedule before they are eight months old. The vaccine is given as oral drops
In summary, giving the full dose of rotavirus vaccine in infancy might protect against the development of type 1 diabetes later in life although more studies and analysis are needed to validate these initial findings.

Reference :
  1. Lower risk of Type 1 diabetes seen in children vaccinated against 'stomach flu' virus - (

Source: Medindia

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