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Bacterial Colonization May Predict Childhood Asthma

Neonates who are colonized by certain types of bacteria more likely to develop asthma by age 5

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In neonates, colonization of the hypopharyngeal region with certain types of bacteria may predict the development of recurrent wheeze and asthma in early childhood, researchers report in the Oct. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hans Bisgaard, M.D., of Copenhagen University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues obtained and cultured hypopharyngeal samples from 321 asymptomatic infants at age 1 month and followed them until age 5.

The researchers found that neonatal colonization with one or more of three organisms -- Streptococcus pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Haemophilus influenzae -- was associated with persistent wheeze (hazard ratio, 2.40), acute severe exacerbation of wheeze (HR, 2.99) and hospitalization for wheeze (HR, 3.85). When the children were age 5, the researchers found that neonatal colonization was associated with a higher prevalence of asthma (33 percent versus 10 percent) and the reversibility of airway resistance after Beta-2 agonist administration (23 percent versus 18 percent).

The author of an accompanying editorial writes, "In my opinion, the data presented by Bisgaard and colleagues may be interpreted to suggest that bacterial colonization of the hypopharynx in the first four weeks of life indicates a defective innate immune response very early in life, which promotes the development of asthma."

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