Worm infestations and development of autoimmunity in children - The ABIS study

PLoS One. 2017 Mar 23;12(3):e0173988. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173988. eCollection 2017.


Worm infestations influence the immune system and may therefore decrease the risk for autoimmune diseases. The aim of the study was to determine whether children who have developed autoimmune disease were less likely to have had worm infestations in childhood. The ABIS-study is a prospective population-based cohort study of children born in southeast Sweden 1997/99. 17.055 children participated. As of June 2014 116 individuals had developed Type 1 diabetes, 181 celiac disease, and 53 Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. The parents answered questions on worm infestations when the children were 1, 5 and 8 years of age. The ABIS registry was connected to the National Registry of Drug Prescriptions, and national registries for diagnosis of the studied diseases. We found no differences in incidence of worm infestations at 1, 5 or 8 years of age between children who developed autoimmune disease(s) or healthy controls. At 8 years in total 20.0% of the general child population had experienced a worm infestation; children who developed Type 1 diabetes, 21,3%, celiac disease 19,5% and JRA 18,8%. There was no difference in prescriptions of drugs for treatment of worm infestations between those who had and who had not developed Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. We found no associations indicating that worm infestations in childhood does not play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases in Sweden.

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Enterobiasis / complications
  • Enterobiasis / epidemiology
  • Enterobiasis / immunology
  • Female
  • Helminthiasis / complications
  • Helminthiasis / epidemiology*
  • Helminthiasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology

Grant support

The ABIS-study was supported by the Swedish Child Diabetes Foundation (Barndiabetesfonden), The Research Council of South-east Sweden (FORSS), Swedish Research Council K2005-72X-11242-11A, and ALF/County Council of Östergötland. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.