Celiac Disease Increases Your Flu-Related Hospitalization Risk

Study provides a good reason to get an annual flu shot

pharmacist giving flu shot
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There may be a good reason for people who have celiac disease to get an annual flu shot: a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found an increased risk of hospital admission for influenza in people with celiac disease.

The study, which was conducted in Sweden, compared influenza-related hospital admissions in three separate groups of patients. These included a group of 29,008 patients who had a celiac disease diagnosis with a Marsh score of 3, indicating fairly severe intestinal damage; a group of 13,200 individuals who had Marsh scores of 1 to 2 (inflammation but no villous atrophy) on their celiac disease biopsies; and a group of 3,709 people with positive celiac blood tests but a normal biopsy.

The researchers also compared results with 224,114 control subjects from the general population.

The study found both adults and children who had been diagnosed with celiac disease with Marsh scores of 3 were at increased risk of hospital admission for influenza when compared to the general population, as were individuals with Marsh scores of 1 to 2. Individuals with normal intestinal mucosa but positive celiac disease blood tests were not at any higher risk for hospitalization from influenza than the control group.

From the results of this study, it looks like anyone who's been diagnosed with celiac disease might want to consider getting a flu shot, especially if they're in a high-risk group otherwise (high-risk individuals include children, older adults and people with impaired immune systems, among others).


Mårild K et al. Increased Risk of Hospital Admission for Influenza in Patients With Celiac Disease: A Nationwide Cohort Study in Sweden. American Journal of Gastroenterology.  2010 Nov;105(11):2465-73.

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