Researchers at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital have found a connection between the development of childhood health conditions and the early development of gut bacteria. The study, published in Nature Communications, suggests that children who develop eczema, asthma, food allergies, and hay fever may have had disruptions in the development of their gut microbiome, which refers to the microorganisms and their genes within the gastrointestinal tract.
Courtney Hoskinson, the lead researcher of the study and a PhD candidate at UBC, explains that these findings are significant as no previous study has identified a common origin for allergic diseases. The results of this research could potentially be used to develop guidelines for clinicians to give to young children and their families. These guidelines might include recommendations for breastfeeding, nutrient-dense diets, encouraging outdoor play to introduce beneficial bacteria, and discouraging unnecessary use of antibiotics.
According to the study, understanding the common cause of allergies could help with predicting and preventing allergies, which is important given that one in three children in Canada suffers from allergies. Allergies have been on the rise in recent decades, and the study suggests that changes in lifestyle that impact gut bacteria may be responsible for this increase. The study looked at 1,115 children and followed their development from birth to age five. Half of the children had no evidence of allergies at the age of five, while the other half were diagnosed with one or more allergies.
Researchers analyzed stool samples from the children at three months old and one year old to examine their gut microbiome. They found that the children who developed allergies had an imbalance of gut bacteria, leading to inflammation within the gut. The study also revealed that there are similarities in gut bacteria between people with food allergies, indicating the importance of the microbiome in allergy development.
This research sheds light on the critical time period from birth to early toddlerhood when significant changes occur in the gut microbiome and the immune system. By understanding the development of gut bacteria, healthcare professionals can gain insights into the development of allergies and potentially find ways to prevent them.
– Nature Communications
– University of British Columbia
– BC Children’s Hospital