LINKöPING, Sweden, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Bacteria in the intestines may play a strong role in the development of asthma in children, researchers at Linköping University suggest in a new study.
Linköping scientists analyzed stool samples from infants between the ages of 1 month and 12 months, and determined the first year of life has a powerful impact on the immune system's development. The study's authors say their findings confirmed their hypothesis that conditions within the intestine can determine the risk for asthma.
"The results confirm our idea that the intestinal flora (also known as the 'intestinal microbiota') early in life plays a role for later allergy development," Maria Jenmalmaid in a press release. "We believe that diversity among the bacteria contributes to strengthening the immune defense in the mucous membranes. In our new study we saw differences in the immune response against intestinal bacteria in children who subsequently developed allergic symptoms."
In the study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers looked at the composition of bacteria in the stool samples and observed the differences in IgA antibodies, defense mechanisms which use microorganisms as a barrier in mucous membranes.
"There were clear differences in the types of bacteria that the immune defenses of the two groups of children reacted against," Jenmalm added, noting her team found lower levels of IgA in children who developed asthma during the first seven years of life.
The study by Linköping University scientists is the latest peer-reviewed report to link the onset of asthma with the makeup of microorganisms in the intestines.
A paper published in September warned a rare abnormality in the makeup of infants' gut bacteria may triple the risks for allergies and asthma in childhood. In early October, Canadian researchers found infants can be prevented from developing the disorder if they acquire four types of bacteria during the first three months of life.