Canadian researchers suggest that a lack of specific bacteria in the infants’ gut may lead to the development of asthma as they get older.
There are four types of gut bacteria, which scientists call FLVR. F stands for Faecalibacterium, L stands for Lachnospira, V for Veillonellaand, and R for Rothia.
In the study, the researchers examined about 300 one-year-old children, who lived in different cities in Canada. Researchers looked for any possible symptoms of asthma which included atopy, also known as atopic syndrome (tendency to develop allergic diseases) and episodes of wheezing.
The results showed that only 74 of the children had none of the symptoms, while 87 had atopic syndrome, 136 suffered from episodes of wheezing, and 22 had episodes of wheezing as well as atopic syndrome.
The 22 children who were diagnosed both with atopic syndrome and wheezing had a 21 times higher risk of having asthma by the age of three, than the children who were diagnosed with neither of the symptoms. Also, the 22 children had a five times higher risk of suffering of asthma by the age of three, as compared to those who had neither atopic syndrome, nor episodes of wheezing.
When they were thee months old, the children in the wheezing and atopy group had lower levels of the FLVR gut bacteria, a previously conducted study suggests. The children who showed none of the symptoms at the age of one, had increased levels of FLVR when they were three months old, B. Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, stated.
Scientists believe that the use of too many antibiotics may alter the levels of FLVR bacteria in the children’s guts.
Probiotics (‘good bacteria’) administration early in life, may reduce the infants’ risk of developing asthma, researchers say.
“[The finding] shows there’s a short, maybe 100-day window, for giving babies therapeutic interventions to protect against asthma,” Dr. Stuart Turvey, a paediatric immunologist at British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, stated.
However, doctors will not be able to prescribe probiotic treatments for infants until more research is done to make sure that the treatment will be harmless and efficient.
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