The composition of microbes in the gut of newborns may be linked to the development of asthma later in life, a new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, revealed.
“We now have particular markers that seem to predict asthma later in life,” explained lead researcher Brett Finlay in a press release. Finlay is a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Researchers wanted to see if the microbes living within the digestive system of 319 babies – at three months of age – had a relationship with risk for the inflammatory breathing disorder, commonly known as asthma. They first examined the babies and then followed them up through their lives.
Children that had low levels of four identified bacteria – Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (FLVR) – were more likely to develop asthma before they turned 3 years old. According to Finlay, the main goal is to look for ways to back these bacterias and decrease the risk of developing asthma in children.
To demonstrate that these microbes have a protective effect, the researchers implanted the FLVR bacteria into laboratory mice inoculated with feces from an asthmatic child.
“These findings indicate that bacteria that live in and on us may have a role in asthma. Studies like ours are identifying specific bacteria combinations that seem to be missing in the children at the highest risk of asthma. The long-term goal is to see if we could offer these bacteria back, not the general nonspecific probiotics,” he said
He added that these findings ought to be replicated on a larger scale and among different populations to find standardized results. “There could be other microbes that have a similar function, but we don’t know that yet.”
As stated in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention site, about one in 12 people (about 25 million) have asthma, and the numbers are increasing every year. Twelve million among them had an asthma attack in 2008 though they can be prevented. Asthma cost the US about $56 billion.
Source: Science Translational Medicine