Acquisition of Four Key Gut Bacteria (FLVR) by 3 Months of Age May Reduce Risk of Childhood Asthma

New research by scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and British Columbia Children's Hospital finds that infants may be protected from developing asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age. The research was published in the September 30, 2015 issue of Science Translational Medicine and the article is titled “Early Infancy Microbial and Metabolic Alterations Affect Risk of Childhood Asthma.” More than 300 families from across Canada participated in this research through the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study. "This research supports the hygiene hypothesis that we're making our environment too clean. 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," said the study's co-lead researcher Dr. B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC. Asthma rates have increased dramatically since the 1950s and now affect up to 20 per cent of children in western countries. This discovery opens the door to developing probiotic treatments for infants that might prevent asthma. The finding could also be used to develop a test for predicting which children are at risk of developing asthma. In the study, the researchers analyzed fecal samples from 319 children involved in the CHILD Study. Analysis of the gut bacteria from the 319 samples revealed lower levels of four specific gut bacteria in three-month-old infants who were at an increased risk for asthma.
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