How and where a baby is born affects the likelihood of it developing asthma and allergies

A new study has focused on the relationship between gastrointestinal microbiota composition, mode and place of delivery, and atopic manifestations, in order to clarify the relationships between these three. Past studies have looked at microbiota composition and caesarian section and how they link to atopy, but the results have been inconsistent.

This study, carried out by researchers at the Department of Epidemiology, CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, Netherlands, used data on birth characteristics, lifestyle factors and atopic manifestations collected from birth until 7 years of age through questionnaires. This data was from the Child, Parent and Health: Lifestyle and Genetic Constitution Birth Cohort Study. Fecal samples were collected at 1 month of age to determine microbiota composition, and blood samples were collected at age one, and at 6-7 years old, to determine IgE levels.

Colonisation by Clostridium difficile (C difficile) at one month was associated with wheeze and asthma throughout the first 6-7 years of life, and with asthma at age 6 to 7. Vaginal home delivery compared with vaginal hospital delivery was associated with a decreased risk of eczema, sensitisation to food allergens and asthma. A decreased risk of sensitisation to food allergens and asthma among vaginally home-born babies was only found for children with atopic parents. Analysis showed that the effects of mode and place of delivery on atopic outcomes were mediated by C difficile colonisation – and the researchers concluded that mode and place of delivery affect the gastrointestinal microbiota composition, which in turn influences the risk of atopic manifestations.

Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology


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First Published in November 2011

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