Exposure to four strains of bacteria in early infancy decreases asthma risk

Image courtesy of gratisography.com

Image courtesy of gratisography.com

The development of childhood asthma has long been linked with the hygiene hypothesis. Asthma rates have been rapidly increasing since the 1950s, and now affect up to 20% of children in the western world. A new study published in Science Translational Medicine (Arietta et al., 2015) supports this hypothesis.

 

The researchers examined fecal samples from 319 children who took part in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study. Analysis of these samples revealed that children at high-risk of developing asthma had low levels of four species of bacteria, nicknamed FLVR (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, Rothia). By 12 months of age, the gut-microbiome differences between high-risk and low-risk children (as determined by allergy testing), had decreased significantly, meaning that the first three months are a critical time-period for the baby’s developing immune system. Early exposure to FLVR bacteria could be critical in warding off asthma later on.

 

These are early days for this field of burgeoning microbiome research and much work lies ahead. The implications of such research however, suggest avenues that could eventually eradicate such deadly disease.