BABIES who have acquired four key bacteria in their gut by the age of three months may be protected against asthma, a new study suggests.
The finding by Canadian researchers, published today in Science Translational Medicine, could lead to tests to identify babies most at-risk of developing asthma and even inoculations to prevent its onset.
The study also adds weight to the "hygiene hypothesis" that suggests an obsession with clean home environments has fuelled a dramatic rise in asthma rates across western societies since the 1950s.
For the study the researchers analysed stool samples collected at age three months and one year of 319 children participating in the larger Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study.
The study showed lower levels of four specific gut bacteria - Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella and Rothia - in three-month-olds who were later found to be at an increased risk for asthma.
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