Impact of Month of Birth on the Risk of Development of Autoimmune Addison's Disease

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Abstract

Context:

The pathogenesis of autoimmune Addison's disease (AAD) is thought to be due to interplay of genetic, immune, and environmental factors. A month-of-birth effect, with increased risk for those born in autumn/winter months, has been described in autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Objective:

Month-of-birth effect was investigated in 2 independent cohorts of AAD subjects.

Design, Setting, and Patients:

The monthly distribution of birth in AAD patients was compared with that of the general population using the cosinor test. A total of 415 AAD subjects from the United Kingdom cohort were compared with 8 180 180 United Kingdom births, and 231 AAD subjects from the Polish cohort were compared with 2 421 384 Polish births.

Main Outcome Measures:

Association between month of birth and the susceptibility to AAD.

Results:

In the entire cohort of AAD subjects, month-of-birth distribution analysis showed significant periodicity with peak of births in December and trough in May (P = .028). Analysis of the odds ratio distribution based on month of birth in 2 cohorts of patients with AAD versus the general population revealed a December peak and May trough, and January peak and July trough, in the United Kingdom and Polish cohorts, respectively.

Conclusion:

For the first time, we demonstrate that month of birth exerts an effect on the risk of developing AAD, with excess risk in individuals born in winter months and a protective effect when born in the summer. Exposure to seasonal viral infections in the perinatal period, coupled with vitamin D deficiency, could lead to dysregulation of innate immunity affecting the risk of developing AAD.

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