How gut bacteria can predict asthma in children – Quartz

You don’t need to be a foodie for your gut to have a great influence on your health. It seems that every week, there is a new study that finds new ways in which your gut’s bacteria are linked to diseases.

A new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, shows that the mere absence of certain bacteria in a child’s gut could predict whether they will suffer from asthma later in life.

To arrive at this conclusion, Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia and his colleagues collected the stool and urine samples of 300 Canadian children when they were three months old and then 12 months old, and their health information at the age of one, three, and five.

When they crunched the data, they found that those who had less amounts of four types of bacteria—Lachnospira, Veillonella, Faecalibacterium, and Rothia—at three months old went on to show early signs of asthma, such as wheezing and skin allergies, by the age of one. Perhaps some byproducts that these bacteria produced were protective against asthma?

To be sure, they tested the hypothesis in mice. They took mice with sterile guts and in them they planted the feces of asthma-prone three-month-old children. As the bacteria took hold of the gut, they found that the animals developed inflammation in the lung. But soon after they added a mixture of the four types of bacteria they suspected were key, the mice began to heal.

The composition of gut microbes varies among different populations, based on location, diet, habits, and so on. That is why Finlay and his colleagues are now looking to test children from other countries so that they can generalize their results.

If they succeed, it may be possible to develop a test to find out whether a child is prone to asthma or not based on their stool and urine samples at a very young age. What would be even better is if we are able to implant gut bacteria in asthma-prone children to reverse their likelihood of developing the respiratory illness.

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