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Infant’s microbiome may determine its predisposition to allergies

Posted:  Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Breastfeeding and other factors might help determine infant’s predisposition to allergies

Researchers from around the world have found that the microbial residents in our gut hold a window to our future health with multiple factors influencing its development. Now, researchers from the Henry Ford hospital, in their recent study, found that breastfeeding was one of the strongest determining factors influencing an infant’s immune system and the infant’s susceptibility to allergies and asthma.

To be presented in the annual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting, the study evaluated data from the WHEALS (Wayne County Health, Environment, Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study) birth cohort. In 6 different studies, the researchers studied different maternal, environmental, behavioural factors, its effect on the infants’ gut microbiome and development of allergies and asthma.

The researchers evaluated stool samples of infants aged 1 month and 6 months and also took into account their breastfeeding status. The affect of the gut microbiota on the development of T-regulatory cells was also evaluated.

They found that apart from breastfeeding, mode of delivery, first born status, endotoxin levels from pets and pollution modulated the risk of allergies in infants. Breastfed infants seemed to have distinct microbial composition. The researchers also found that gut microbial composition was shown to be associated with increasing Treg cells.

Talking about the results, the lead researcher Dr. Christine Cole Johnson said, “The research is telling us that exposure to a higher and more diverse burden of environmental bacteria and specific patterns of gut bacteria appear to boost the immune system’s protection against allergies and asthma.”

In conclusion, the researchers believe that allergies could indicate a change in the gut microbial ecosystem in the infant or even in chronic adult diseases. Additionally, identification of the exact bacterial genera involved in modulating the allergy risk could help in mitigating it either by dietary or by environmental factors.

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