It is well known that adults older than 65 are at substantially increased risk for pneumonia, but a study out of the United Kingdom suggests that younger celiac disease patients are at greater risk as well.

The study, published last year in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, compared rates of pneumonia infection for patients under 65 with and without celiac disease, and who had or had not received a pneumonia vaccine. Those with celiac disease were found to have a 7% higher chance of contracting pneumonia than those without the disease. Within the celiac disease population, those who had not been vaccinated were found to have a 28% higher chance of contracting pneumonia than those who had received the vaccine. As age itself carries such a high risk for pneumonia, results are limited to individuals under the age of 65; there was little difference in incidence found for patients over that age.

One possible explanation for the increased pneumonia risk with celiac disease is that spleen function can be compromised for these patients, contributing to reduced immunity to bacteria and viruses.  Celiac disease patients should be mindful to reduce infection risk whenever possible, which includes vaccination against pneumonia every five years, and annual influenza vaccine as well. This recommendation was also suggested by Celiac Disease Foundation Medical Advisory Board member, Peter H. R. Green, MD, Phyllis & Ivan Seidenberg Professor of Medicine and Director of Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, at Digestive Disease Week 2017. Additionally, it is important to seek early medical intervention for fever or respiratory symptoms.

Read the full study here.

Importance of Pneumonia Vaccine for Celiac Disease Patients