Published online Jul 7, 2020. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i25.3611
Peer-review started: December 25, 2019
First decision: January 19, 2020
Revised: June 16, 2020
Accepted: June 18, 2020
Article in press: June 18, 2020
Published online: July 7, 2020
The etiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is unknown, but it is believed to be multifactorial. The hygiene hypothesis proposes that better hygiene conditions would lead to less infectious disease during childhood and favor the development of immune-mediated diseases.
Brazil is a country with continental dimensions comprising an ethnically diverse population living in different regions with extreme socioeconomic differences. The country is the perfect setting to test the hygiene hypothesis in IBD development.
The aim of this study was to identify IBD environmental risk factors across different geographical regions in Brazil and evaluate if the hygiene hypothesis might explain interregional differences in prevalence/incidence.
A multicenter case-control study with 548 Crohn’s disease (CD), 492 ulcerative colitis (UC) outpatients, and 416 healthy controls. A semi-structured questionnaire with 87 socioeconomic and environmental questions was applied.
Predictive variables for both diseases (CD and UC) were women [odd ratios (OR) = 1.31; OR = 1.69], low monthly family income (OR = 1.78; OR = 1.57), lower number of cohabitants (OR = 1.70; OR = 1.60), absence of vaccination (OR = 3.11; OR = 2.51), previous history of bowel infections (OR = 1.78; OR = 1.49), and family history of IBD (OR = 5.26; OR = 3.33). Associated risk factors for CD were age (18-39 years) (OR = 1.73), higher educational level (OR = 2.22), absence of infectious childhood diseases (OR = 1.99). The UC predictive variables were living in an urban area (OR = 1.62), inadequate living conditions (OR = 1.48) and former smokers (OR = 3.36). Appendectomy was a risk factor for CD (OR = 1.58) with inverse association with UC (OR = 4.79). Consumption of treated and untreated water was associated with risk of CD (OR = 1.38) and UC (OR = 1.53), respectively.
Most of the variables associated with disease risk support the role of the hygiene hypothesis in IBD development.
Brazil is a large heterogeneous region that differs by demography, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and healthcare support. Therefore, future studies are necessary to confirm the risk factor associations observed in the present study.