Boy using inhaler to illustrate allergic diseases of childhood
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A study led by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver shows children with four common allergic conditions in infancy share similar signs of gut microbiome abnormalities at one year.

The research team believes their findings could help predict who will develop allergies and could even help develop more effective treatments for those affected by these conditions in the future.

Writing in Nature Communications, the researchers report that five-year old children with eczema, asthma, a food allergy, hay fever, or a combination of these conditions all had similar functional and metabolic abnormalities linked to their gut microbiome at one year of age.

“We’re seeing more and more children and families seeking help at the emergency department due to allergies,” said Stuart Turvey, professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia and an investigator at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and co-senior author on the study.

“Hundreds of millions of children worldwide suffer from allergies, including one in three children in Canada, and it’s important to understand why this is happening and how it can be prevented.”

The CHILD Cohort Study is a prospective longitudinal birth cohort study launched in Canada in 2008, which recruited 3500 women and their newborns between 2009 and 2012. The children enrolled in the study have regular follow up health assessments measuring a range of different physiological and environmental factors.

The current study included 1115 children in the CHILD cohort diagnosed with eczema (n=367), asthma (n=165), food allergy (n=136) or hay fever (n=187) by the age of 5 years who had undergone in depth testing and analysis of many health related and environmental factors since enrollment.

The researchers analyzed stool samples taken at three months and one year of the children to assess differences in microbiome development and features over time and in comparison to children with no allergic disorders.

Using multi-omic testing the team showed that one year stool samples from the children with allergic disorders all appeared to be undeveloped and showed similar abnormalities to each other in comparison to samples from children with no allergic conditions at five years.

These abnormalities were characterized by compromised mucous integrity, elevated oxidative activity, decreased secondary fermentation, and elevated trace amines, which the researchers believe contributed to the development of the four conditions.

“Developing therapies that change these interactions during infancy may therefore prevent the development of all sorts of allergic diseases in childhood, which often last a lifetime,” said Turvey.

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