Reduced gut microbial diversity in infancy is associated with development of eczema but not atopy in high-risk infants

Recent research suggests that changes in gut bacteria may be linked to the development of allergic diseases such as eczema. Other recent studies posit that it is the diversity of the bacteria that creates a healthy gut, not the absence or presence of certain strains of microbes.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne looked into the relationship between the diversity of gut microbiota in the first week of life, and the development of eczema and atopy in the first year of life. They took stool samples one week after birth from 98 infants who were at high-risk of allergic disease, and followed these infants for the next twelve months. The researchers assessed the microbial diversity in the infants faecal samples, and concluded that the children with eczema at age one had a significantly lower level of microbial diversity after the first week of life than did those children without eczema.

They did not observe any differences in atopic (those with an inherited predisposition to allergy) children compared to non-atopic children, and there was also no comparison between infants with either one or two allergic parents. The researchers conclude that any intervention that can enhance the gut’s microbial diversity in very early life may prevent the development of eczema in high-risk infants.

Source: Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

July 2012


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