The burden of celiac disease (CD) is increasingly recognized as a global problem. However, whether this situation depends on genetics or environmental factors is uncertain. The authors examined these aspects in Sweden, a country in which the risk of CD is generally considered to be high. If environmental factors are relevant, CD risk in second-generation immigrant children should be related to maternal length of stay in Sweden before delivery.
Linking the Swedish Medical Birth Registry to other national registries, the authors investigated all singleton children (n = 792,401) born in Sweden between 1987 and 1993. They studied the risk of CD in children before age 6 as a function of the mother's geographical region of birth and length of stay in Sweden before delivery using Cox regression models.
In children whose mothers immigrated to Sweden from a country outside of Europe, a maternal length of stay in Sweden of more than 5 years increased the hazard ratio (HR) of CD (1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-2.81). The authors observed a similar result among children born to mothers from a Nordic country outside of Sweden (HR 1.57, 95% CI 0.89-2.75), but a non-conclusive protective effect was observed in second-generation immigrant children from a non-Nordic European country (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.39-1.09).
The risk of CD among second-generation immigrants seems to be conditioned by maternal length of stay in Sweden before delivery, suggesting that environmental factors contribute to the variation in CD risk observed across populations.
The preservation of human health in polar and circumpolar regions depends mainly on the strategy for future development of these regions. The consequences of human intervention into northern ecology are irreversible, as in the case of greenhouse effect, industrial and atomic pollutions of polar nature, tundra devastation, destruction of northern flora and fauna, etc. The ongoing creation of large-scale industrial population centers in the North due to newcomers is to be stopped. Polar regions are to be used for biospheric reservation and tourist sanitary zones, to preserve specific flora and fauna, to provide the rhythms and customs necessary to survive in extreme climatic and geophysical conditions of high latitudes. The programme for securing man's survival in circumpolar regions should comprise several stages of practical measures to provide necessary resources and to combine international efforts. The preservation of human health should be based on the understanding of the relationship between the health status and biospheric processes and the assessment of the role of human intervention into polar ecology. A programme facilitating the preservation of human health and survival in the North and in the Antarctic should be launched.