“The prevalence of celiac disease in first-degree relatives of individuals with celiac is approximately 10%. Despite these findings, little is known about the risk of nonceliac autoimmune disease in these individuals,” said lead author Louise Emilsson, MD, PhD, in a press release. “We found convincing results that close relatives are also at risk for these conditions, but more surprisingly, we found that spouses may also be at risk.”
The study authors noted that although the excess risk found in celiac first-degree relatives can be explained by genetics, the fact that spouses also had a higher risk indicated that environmental factors could have been at work. They added that it was also possible that spouses share microbiome characteristics with their significant others, potentially affecting their risk of developing other autoimmune diseases.