The rotavirus vaccine may have an unexpected benefit: a reduced likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes.
The vaccine is highly effective at protecting against intestinal infections caused by the virus (SN: 8/8/15, p. 5). Past work in mice prone to diabetes suggests infection with rotavirus can hasten damage to beta cells in the pancreas, the cells that are destroyed in a person with type 1 diabetes.
Researchers analyzed private insurance data, covering 2001 to 2017, for close to 1.5 million U.S. children who were infants at the time of enrollment. Among children fully vaccinated against rotavirus, there was a 41 percent reduction in the incidence of type 1 diabetes compared with unvaccinated children, the team reports online June 13 in Scientific Reports.
The results apply to both of the rotavirus vaccines available in the United States. In fully vaccinated children, the incidence of type 1 diabetes was 12.2 cases per 100,000 people per year; in the unvaccinated group, it was 20.6 per 100,000. There wasnt a benefit for partially vaccinated kids either, those who did not complete the full number of doses.
In the United States, around 1.25 million people have type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-secreting beta cells.