According to researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital, breastfeeding and other factors play an important role in the development of an infant’s immune system and susceptibility to allergies and asthma by what’s in their gut. A series of studies had revealed that early childhood exposure to microorganisms affects the immune system’s development and onset of allergies.
Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MPH, chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences and principal research investigator believes that the immune system is designed to be exposed to bacteria on a grand scale and to minimize those exposures will lead to poor development of the immune system.
Using data collected from the WHEALS birth cohort, researchers analyzed stool samples from infants taken at one month and six months after birth. The results revealed that breastfed babies at one month and six months had distinct microbiome compositions compared to non-breastfed babies. Breastfed babies at one month were at decreased risk of developing allergies to pets. Asthmatic children who had nighttime coughing or flare-ups had a distinct microbiome composition during the first year of life and gut microbiome composition was shown to be associated with increasing Treg cells.
This research proves that exposure to a higher and more diverse burden of environmental bacteria and specific patterns of gut bacteria appear to boost the immune system’s protection against allergies and asthma.