Childhood allergies linked to gut health

A new study suggests that major allergies in children may have something to do with the makeup of someone’s gut bacteria. What’s more, researchers in Canada believe that antibiotics can exacerbate this problem.

A team from the University of British Columbia says that the composition of the infant’s gut microbiota could help predict and possibly prevent conditions such as hay fever. The study examined 1,115 children from birth to five years of age, with more than half of them suffering from at least one type of allergy.

“Hundreds of millions of children worldwide suffer from allergies,” Dr. Stuart Turvey, a professor in the department of pediatrics, said in a university statement. “It is important to understand why this happens and how it can be prevented.”

various types

The research is unique in simultaneously exploring the origins of four different types of allergy. The team was particularly interested in how this sensitivity linked to the composition of the infants’ gut microbiota.

“These are technically different diagnoses, and they each have their own list of symptoms, so most researchers tend to study them individually,” says Dr. Charisse Petersen, co-lead author of the study. “But when you look at what’s going wrong on a cellular level, they actually have a lot in common.”

To conduct the research, the scientists assessed the children’s gut microbiota through stool samples collected at clinical visits when the children were three and 12 months old. Of the children included in the study, 523 children showed no signs of allergy, while 592 children were diagnosed with one or more allergic disorders.

influential factors

The researchers note that factors such as diet, mode of delivery, geographic location, and exposure to antibiotics can all influence the infant’s gut microbiota.

“There are a lot of potential insights from this powerful analysis. From these data we can see that factors such as antibiotic use in the first year of life are more likely to lead to later allergic disorders, while breastfeeding during the first six months is protective. This was inclusive of all the allergic disorders we studied. Therefore, developing therapies that alter these reactions during childhood may prevent the development of all types of allergic diseases in childhood, which often last a lifetime.”

The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Leave a Comment