New research by scientists from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and British Columbia Children’s Hospital has revealed that four major childhood allergies may arise from a common factor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that close to one in five children suffer from seasonal allergies, with 10.8% living with eczema and 5%–8% suffering from food allergies.
These allergies typically occur due to factors such as outdoor and indoor triggers, irritants including perfumes and cigarette smoke, and consuming certain foods. Since each type of allergy tends to arise from different factors, developing treatment or therapy that can address several types of pediatric allergies at once and even prevent them from developing in the first place has been quite difficult.
According to a recent study, however, four common pediatric allergies (hay fever, asthma, eczema, and food allergies) may arise due to imbalances in the gut microbiome, indicating a potential treatment approach to addressing the four pediatric allergies. Lead researcher Dr. Stuart Turvey said the research team analyzed pediatric allergies that seemed similar on the surface but had plenty of underlying differences. He noted that the team’s research was informed by prior studies showing that all allergy conditions had one common underlying theme: a confused immune system.
The team has now discovered that gut microbiome imbalances may be responsible for the immune system confusion that ultimately leads to the development of asthma, hay fever, food allergies, and eczema. Turvey and his team drew their data from the ongoing Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development CHILD Cohort Study, a large decade-and-a-half-long research project involving thousands of Canadian children.
Team members analyzed clinical assessments from some 1,115 children from birth to age five. Half of the children had received diagnoses for one or more allergies. After the researcher examined the children’s gut bacteria through stool samples, they found a bacteria signature associated with the development of the four allergic diseases by the time the children were five years old.
The absence of specific bacteria within young children’s guts seemed to contribute to the development of the four common allergy disorders, the team says. Cosenior study author Dr. Charisse Petersen said that children who later developed allergies exhibited delays in the maturation of their gut microbiome when compared to children who didn’t develop allergies. This delay in the development of beneficial bacteria in the gut may indicate a predisposition for young children to develop some of the most common allergic diseases.
Factors such as diet and antibiotics can alter an infant’s microbiome, especially during their first year, and increase their risk of developing allergies later in life.
Given the rising toll of allergies and other autoimmune conditions, companies such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are focusing on developing immunotherapies for these conditions so that patients can have lasting solutions to their ailments.
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