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BMC Gastroenterol. 2010 Sep 14;10:106. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-10-106.

Psychological stress and coeliac disease in childhood: a cohort study.

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Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital, Solna, Sweden.



Psychological stress has previously been associated with several immunological diseases, e.g. inflammatory bowel disease. Through questionnaire data from the ABIS study (All Babies In southeast Sweden) we examined the association between psychological stress in the family and biopsy-proven coeliac disease (CD) in the child.


We used serious life event, parenting stress, and parental worries as measures of psychological stress. Data were collected when the child was 1 and 2.5 years old in some 11,000 and 8,800 children, respectively. CD was confirmed through small intestinal biopsy (with villous atrophy), and the diagnosis was validated through patient chart data.


Serious life event in the family in the child's first 1 or 2.5 years after childbirth was not associated with future CD in the child (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.45; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 0.01-2.65; P = 0.72; and OR = 1.21; 95% CI = 0.43-3.05; P = 0.64, respectively). Neither did we see any association between CD and parenting stress at age 1 year and at 2.5 years (OR = 0.40; 95% CI = 0.01-2.38; P = 0.73 and OR = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.01-4.56; P = 1.00, respectively). Among children exposed to parental worries at 2.5 years, no child had a diagnosis of CD before end of follow-up, compared to 25/8082 (0.3%) among non-exposed children (OR = 0.00; 95% CI = 0.00-2.34; P = 0.64). There was no association between the combined measures of stress and CD.


This study found no association between psychological stress and later development of CD in Swedish children. However, we cannot rule out that the lack of such an association is due to limited statistical power.

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