Routine vaccination against rotavirus ― a common cause of diarrhoea and sickness ― may be associated with a reduced risk of type-1 diabetes in children, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.
Mary Rogers and colleagues studied a cohort of 1,474,535 infants born in the US from 2001 to 2017, using anonymized data from a private health insurance provider. The authors found that children who had completed the rotavirus vaccine (had received all necessary doses) had a reduced risk of type-1 diabetes compared to those who were not vaccinated. Out of a total 540,317 children born from 2006 to 2017, who were vaccinated, 192 developed diabetes (this is equivalent to 12.2 per 100,000 children annually). Out of 246,600 children born during the same time period, who were not vaccinated, 166 developed diabetes (equivalent to 20.6 per 100,000 children annually). Partial vaccination (missing out on one or more of the individual doses) was not associated with diabetes incidence.
Two rotavirus vaccines were used between 2006 and 2017 ― a pentavalent vaccine that provides protection against five different types of rotavirus and a monovalent vaccine that provides protection against one type of rotavirus. Children who received either vaccine had a 94% lower hospitalization rate from rotavirus infection than children who were not vaccinated. They also had a 31% reduction in overall hospitalizations during the 60 days after vaccination. This would suggest that the vaccines are safe. Completion of the three doses of the pentavalent vaccine lowered the risk of type-1 diabetes by 37%.
Previous studies in humans and animals have linked rotavirus infection to type-1 diabetes, the destruction of β-cells and infections of the pancreas. Although additional studies are needed to explore the association between rotavirus vaccination and a reduced risk of type-1 diabetes in more detail, the authors suggest that rotavirus vaccination may be a practical measure that could have a role in the prevention of type-1 diabetes.