Rotavirus vaccine could help prevent type 1 diabetes 

Rotavirus vaccine is showing a correlation with a reduction in type 1 diabetes incidents among infants. 


Voisin/ Phanie / Alamy Stock Photo

As concern grows over social media anti-vaccination campaigns leading to possible outbreaks of preventable diseases, a new study points to the benefit of rotavirus vaccination.

This study comes after previous research found an association between the development of type 1 diabetes in genetically predisposed infants, and rotavirus infection. 

 A recent study1 in Australia found that with the routine administration of the rotavirus vaccination there was a 14 percent decline in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in infants from 0 to 4 years of age. The correlation, however, wasn’t significant in older children studied. The preliminary results then indicate that the rotavirus vaccine may be protective against the development of type 1 diabetes in early childhood.

Rotavirus is a contagious virus and the most common cause of inflammation of the stomach and intestines in children. Severe cases could case dehydration and in some cases death.

Rotavirus vaccines have been added to the regular immunization schedule in Australia in 2007, so the study compares incidence rates of type 1 diabetes in the eight years before and the eight years after the routine oral vaccine was introduced.

According to Terry Nolan, head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health and one of the researchers in the study, “the findings provide preliminary evidence to strengthen the importance of rotavirus vaccine in early infancy as currently recommended.” However, the evidence does not show the importance of rotavirus vaccines to older children.

This echoes the results of a more detailed cohort study2 that was conducted by a team in US, showing a 33 percent reduction in the risk of type 1 diabetes among infants after the completion of a rotavirus vaccine series.

According to Nolan, further detailed research will give more insight into the results seen in Australia and the significance of the effect of the vaccine on children who are genetically predisposed to type 1 diabetes.

Research on the effect of rotavirus vaccines on incidence rates of type 1 diabetes was prompted by research3 conducted in 2000 in Australia, that found a correlation between the incidents of rotavirus infections and type 1 diabetes. The detailed study found that the virus contains highly similar peptide sequences to T-cells, which then triggers pancreatic infection by molecular mimicry.  


  1.  Perrett, K. Association of Rotavirus Vaccination with the Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in Children. JAMA Pediatrics.173(3), 280-282 (2019).  | article 
  2. .Rogers, M.A., Basu, T. & Kim, C. Lower Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes after Receipt of the Rotavirus Vaccine in the United States, 2001-2017. Scientific Reports. 9 (2019). | article
  3. .Honeyman, M.C. et al. Association between rotavirus infection and pancreatic islet autoimmunity in children at risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Diabetes. 49, 1319–1324 (2000). | article

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