Failure to Respond to Hepatitis B Vaccine in Children With Celiac Disease

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Objectives:To determine whether children with celiac disease (CD) fail to show a response to hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine more frequently than children without CD.Patients and Methods:This was a prospective study that compared the response to HBV, tetanus, rubella, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines between children with CD and age- and sex-matched control subjects.Results:The study population included 26 patients with CD and 18 age- and sex-matched controls. All had received the full complement of childhood vaccinations. A significantly higher proportion of subjects in the CD group (14 of 26) failed to respond to HBV vaccine compared with controls (2 of 18; 53.9% vs 11.1%; P < 0.05). Patients with CD were 8.33 times more likely to test negative for hepatitis B surface antigen than control subjects (95% CI, 1.5–46.5). By contrast, all of the subjects in both groups tested positive for rubella antibodies; only 1 subject in the CD group tested negative for tetanus antibody versus none in the control group (3.9% vs 0%; P = 1.0). The percentage of subjects who tested negative for Hib antibodies was similar in the 2 groups (CD, 33.3%; control, 44.4%; P = 0.53).Conclusions:More than 50% of children with CD do not show a response to standard vaccination regimens for HBV. Given the large number of children with CD throughout the world, this observation suggests that there is a large HBV-susceptible population despite widespread vaccination. Current immunization strategies may need to be reassessed to protect this population and achieve the goal of universal protection.

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