Di­verse gut bac­te­ria lower ba­bies’ asthma risk

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Chil­dren at high risk of get­ting asthma may be miss­ing some im­por­tant gut bac­te­ria in their first few months of life, ac­cord­ing to a study Wed­nes­day that helps ex­plain why asthma is on the rise.

Cases of asthma — a life­long con­di­tion that causes wheez­ing, cough­ing and dif­fi­culty breath­ing — have risen sharply since the 1950s, par­tic­u­larly in Western coun­tries where up to 20 per­cent of chil­dren are af­fected, ex­perts say.

But the cases have not climbed in the de­vel­op­ing world. That has raised con­cerns that en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors or the trap­pings of mod­ern life — such as higher rates of Cae­sarean births, re­liance on for­mula to feed ba­bies rather than breast­feed­ing, overuse of an­tibi­otics, or other fac­tors — may be to blame.

While sci­en­tists still do

not have a de­fin­i­tive an­swer, the find­ings in the jour­nal Science Trans­la­tional Medicine iden­ti­fied for the first time four spe­cific bac­te­ria that ap­pear to pro­tect the im­mune sys­tem against asthma.

“This re­search sup­ports the hy­giene hy­poth­e­sis that we’re mak­ing our en­vi­ron­ment too clean,” said study co-au­thor Brett Fin­lay, pro­fes­sor of mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and im­munol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia.

“It shows that gut bac­te­ria play a role in asthma, but it is early in life when the baby’s im­mune sys­tem is be­ing es­tab­lished.”

The study in­volved more than 300 chil­dren whose stool sam­ples were tested at age three months and one year.

The sam­ples showed lower lev­els of four spe­cific gut bac­te­ria in three-month-old in­fants who were at an in­creased risk for asthma.

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