Asthma and the Gut Microbiome
Asthma affects millions of children worldwide from a very young age, but the risk factors for the condition are poorly understood. Two new studies show that gut microbes may play an important role in protecting children from asthma, a finding that could lead to new strategies to prevent asthma by manipulating the gut microbiome.
Over the past few decades, scientists have linked the gut microbiome to dozens of seemingly unrelated conditions, from depression to obesity. Among these conditions is asthma: babies born by cesarean section have an increased risk of developing asthma compared to those born naturally (virginally) and they also have an altered composition of gut microbes.
Scientists also know that children who grow up in farms and rural environments tend to be protected from asthma, a phenomenon that has been attributed to exposure to a variety of environmental microbes in animal sheds. However, the exact mechanisms through which the gut microbiome could exert protective effects in asthma remain under investigation.