Immature Bacteria Composition Increases Children’s Risk of Developing Asthma – University of Copenhagen

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11 January 2018

Immature Bacteria Composition Increases Children’s Risk of Developing Asthma

Pediatric asthma

A new study conducted by the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center and published in Nature Communications shows that children with an immature intestinal bacterial composition around the age of one are at risk of developing asthma at the age of five.


The composition of the human microbiome – the complex community of bacteria colonising all surfaces of the body – develops in the first year of the child’s life. Now a new study shows that children with an immature intestinal bacterial composition at the age of one have increased risk of developing asthma at the age of five.

The study is conducted by researchers at the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center, a partnership between the University of Copenhagen and Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, among others, headed by Clinical Professor Hans Bisgaard. In the study, which involved 690 Danish children, the researchers have examined the connection between bacterial colonisation in the intestines before the child’s first birthday and the subsequent risk of asthma.

The 690 children make up the cohort Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood 2010 (COPSAC2010) and have been monitored closely since birth and been diagnosed and treated at the research clinic. The study used faeces samples collected before the children were diagnosed with asthma at the age of one week, one month and one year, respectively.

Bacteria Have the Greatest Effect Among Children of Asthmatic Mothers
An immature bacterial composition at the age of one resembles samples collected among younger children rather than samples collected among children of the same age. The types of bacteria characterising an immature bacterial composition are often missing in children who later develop asthma.

These compositions are more prevalent among children of mothers suffering from asthma, which indicates that unfortunate microbial stimulation during the first year of the child’s life may contribute to activating their innate risk of asthma. At the same time, an immature bacterial composition is especially connected with asthma in children who also develop allergic sensitisation, indicating that the child’s immune maturation has been affected.

The study may lead to the development of new methods for preventing asthma. Giving probiotic food supplements to children in risk of developing asthma during the first year of their life may help accelerate the maturation of the gut microbiome and thus affect the maturation of the immune system positively and protect the children from asthma.

Read the entire study: ‘Maturation of the gut microbiome and risk of asthma in childhood’

Read more about the study on videnskab.dk: ‘Studie: Disse børn har 86 procents risiko for astma’


Contact information:
Clinical Professor Hans Bisgaard
Phone: +45 39 77 73 63
bisgaard@copsac.com

Communications Officer Mathias Traczyk
Phone: +45 93565835
mathias.traczyk@sund.ku.dk