The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s Annual Meeting in Houston will see the presentation of a series of studies which claims that a child’s immune system development and vulnerability to asthma and allergies could be affected by a number of aspects like which bacteria is inhabit his gut , gestational age at birth, breast feeding and delivery by Cesarean section.
Kids who were breastfed when they were 1 to 6 months had explicit gut microbiome compositions which could have a bearing in the immune system development.
The research team led by Dr. Christine Cole Johnson, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, said that the study adds credence to the “hygiene hypothesis” – the idea that early childhood exposure to pathogens affects later-life risk of disease.
Dr. Johnson says, “For years now, we’ve always thought that a sterile environment was not good for babies. Our research shows why. Exposure to these micro-organisms, or bacteria, in the first few months after birth actually helps stimulate the immune system. The immune system is designed to be exposed to bacteria on a grand scale. If you minimize those exposures, the immune system won’t develop optimally.”
There are other studies which supports this claim. A study published in the journal Allergy and Clinical Immunology Medical News Today in which researchers found exposing babies to bacteria and allergens in the first year of their life could reduce the risk of allergies, wheezing and asthma later in their life.
The latest research encompasses six studies under different heads which include maternal or birth factors or breastfeeding, affect the composition of Gut bacteria or the gut microbiome- in infants and whether these composition affect the composition of gut bacteria – or the gut microbiome – in infants and if these composition affects the risk of developing allergies or asthma. The study also evaluated if specific composition of Gut bacteria has a bearing on the development of regulatory T cells (Treg)- White blood cells which regulate the immune system.
Researchers investigated data from the Wayne County Health, Environment, Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study (WHEALS). The WHEALS program investigates how environmental as well as biological factors affect the development of allergies and asthma in early life. The study also included analyzing stool
The researchers analyzed stool samples collected from babies at 1 and 6 months following birth. The results of the study revealed that the mother’s ethnic background, gestational age at birth, exposure to tobacco both prenatal and postnatal, presence of pets in home, infant born normally or by Cesarean section , all can influence an infant’s gut microbiome composition. Babies who were breast fed at 1 and 6 months had specific gut microbiome compositions as compared to babies who were not breastfed. This could have a bearing on the immune system development. In addition, babies who were breastfed at 1 month were at lower risk of pet-related allergies. The study also revealed that a specific gut microbiome composition among children with asthma had sudden flare ups or bout of intensive night time coughing. The infant’s gut microbiome composition was associated with levels of Treg cells.