Rotavirus Vaccine May Help Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes

Rotavirus Vaccine May Help Protect Against Type 1 Diabetes


Rotavirus disease is a highly contagious virus that can cause severe illness and death in infants and young children, but there is a vaccine that is highly effective in preventing it. A large new study confirms previous research suggesting that the vaccine may have an added benefit: lowering the risk for Type 1 diabetes.

About 1.3 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that usually arises in childhood, and there are an estimated 40,000 new cases each year.

There are two versions of the vaccine, both administered orally. One, called Rotarix, is effective against a single strain of the virus and is given in two doses. The other, RotaTeq, given in three doses, protects against five different strains.

Among the 1.5 million children in this study, 40,317 received all recommended doses, 83 percent of them taking the three-dose RotaTeq program.

Compared with unvaccinated children, and after adjustment for other factors, there was a 33 percent reduction in the incidence of Type 1 diabetes among those who completed the three-dose RotaTeq series. But among the 140,646 who took only one or two of the required doses, there was no reduction in incidence compared with the unvaccinated. The reductions in risk in those who took the Rotarix vaccine were not statistically significant. The findings appeared in Scientific Reports.

“There’s no cure for Type 1 diabetes, and no known way to prevent it,” said the lead author of the study, Mary A.M. Rogers, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan. “But it’s certainly worth the effort to have your child vaccinated for rotavirus.”

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