Early bacteria exposure cuts allergy risk in later life

Updated: Nov 03, 2011, 16:53 PM IST

Washington: Infants who encounter a wide range of bacteria are at less risk of developing allergic disease later in life, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen.

The figure over sensitivity diseases, or allergies, has been on the increase in recent decades.

Now researchers at the Dansk BorneAstma Center [COPSAC, Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood], University of Copenhagen, are at last able to partly explain the reasons.

“In our study of over 400 children we observed a direct link between the number of different bacteria in their rectums and the risk of development of allergic disease later in life,” said Professor Hans Bisgaard, consultant at Gentofte Hospital, head of the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood.

“Reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiota during infancy was associated with increased risk of allergic disease at school age, he continues. But if there was considerable diversity, the risk was reduced, and the greater the variation, the lower the risk.

“So it makes a difference if the baby is born vaginally, encountering the first bacteria from its mother’s rectum, or by caesarean section, which exposes the new-born baby to a completely different, reduced variety of bacteria. This may be why far more children born by caesarean section develop allergies,” Bisgaard explained.