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Atopic Children Have Distinct Gut Microbiota in Infancy

E. coli and C. difficile are associated with increased risk of eczema, wheeze or atopic dermatitis

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Children who develop atopy often have gut microbiota in early infancy that differs from other children, including the presence of Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile, even before they develop eczema, wheeze or other atopic symptoms, according to the results of a study published in the May issue of Gut.

John Penders, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed gut microbiota composition in infants enrolled in the KOALA Birth Cohort Study using quantitative PCR of fecal samples and measured subsequent atopy including eczema and wheeze. The study included 957 infants aged one month who were followed-up at two years.

The presence of E. coli was associated with a 1.87-fold risk for developing eczema while C. difficile colonies were associated with a 1.40-fold risk for eczema, a 1.75-fold risk for recurrent wheeze, a 1.54-fold risk for allergic sensitization, and a 1.73-fold risk for atopic dermatitis.

"We demonstrated that differences in the gut microbiota composition precede the manifestation of atopic symptoms and atopic sensitization," the authors write. "Different immunological mechanisms may underlie the effects of E. coli and C. difficile. This calls for further research on the mechanisms by which intestinal microbes interfere with our (gastrointestinal) immune system."

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