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Newborn Gut Microbiome May Predict Later Allergy, Asthma

Gut microbiome dysbiosis might promote CD4+ T cell dysfunction

child with asthma inhaler

TUESDAY, Sept. 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Compositionally distinct human neonatal gut microbiota appear differentially related to risk of childhood atopy and asthma, according to research published online Sept. 12 in Nature Medicine.

In 2003, investigators began collecting and freezing stool samples from 130 infants aged 1 month. All were born in the Detroit region, and represented a racially and economically diverse group. Years later, researchers applied newly developed genetic testing technology to map each child's bacterial and fungal gut environment using samples obtained during the first month of life.

Children were classified into three different gut microbial groups. The smallest group included 11 children who lacked key bacteria yet had an excess of certain gut fungi. The investigators then determined that childhood asthma and allergy risk was much higher among such children. Further analysis revealed that key anti-inflammatory lipids were absent in the guts of at-risk babies. The researchers detected different fats, including 12, 13-DIHOME (associated with asthma in adults).

"These findings suggest that neonatal gut microbiome dysbiosis might promote CD4+ T cell dysfunction associated with childhood atopy," the authors write.

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