Maternal Infections, Antibiotics, and Paracetamol in Pregnancy and Offspring Celiac Disease: A Cohort Study

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2017 May;64(5):730-736. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001339.


Objectives: Infections in pregnancy are common, may affect fetal development, and have been linked to offspring autoimmunity. We aimed to determine whether maternal infections, the use of antibiotics, and use of paracetamol in pregnancy are associated with the risk of offspring celiac disease (CD).

Methods: The nationwide Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study includes 84,274 children born in the period from 2000 to 2009 with prospectively collected questionnaire data on maternal infections and medication use in pregnancy. CD was identified through questionnaires and the Norwegian Patient Register. Logistic regression yielded odds ratios adjusted for age and sex (aORs).

Results: During a median follow-up of 8.5 years, 617 children (0.7%) were diagnosed with CD. The aOR for offspring CD per increase in number of maternal infections was 1.07 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01-1.13), but not significantly increased for categories 1 infection (1.01 [95% CI = 0.82-1.25]) and ≥2 infections (1.22 [95% CI = 1.00-1.49]) versus no infection. We found the same pattern for respiratory tract infections, but not for gastrointestinal infections. The aORs were broadly consistent across pregnancy periods of exposure. The use of antibiotics and paracetamol was, compared with no use, not associated with offspring CD (aOR = 1.16 [95% CI = 0.94-1.43] and aOR = 1.13 [95% CI = 0.96-1.33], respectively; P values for trend >0.2).

Conclusions: In this large pregnancy cohort we found no clear association between maternal infections in pregnancy and offspring CD, but considering the marginal significance in some of our results maternal infections cannot be ruled out as a risk factor. Reassuringly for both parents-to-be and clinicians, the use of antibiotics and paracetamol in pregnancy was not a significant risk factor.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects*
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Celiac Disease / etiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Acetaminophen