Good Gut Bacteria Can Prevent Asthma

RENO, NV - It's estimated one in ten kids has asthma. The disease has been on the rise since the 1950s, and science is baffled as to the exact cause. A new study out of British Columbia may not have found a cause but does show why going with the gut isn’t such a bad idea when trying to come up with answers.

If you have a child with asthma we don’t have to tell you about the emotional and economical costs of the disease. Watching your child gasp for break, and there are the emergency room visits. It costs billions of dollars annually to treat.

Asthma patients make up 1.75 million visits to the emergency room each year. Treatment can involve monitoring the disease with a peak flow meter and using drug therapies including bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory agents.

Even with those treatments, asthma is responsible for 10.5 million missed school days annually. Prevention could help wipe out those numbers....and while researchers in British Columbia haven't found a cure, they have uncovered an interesting finding.

They studied 319 babies and looked at levels of specific good bacteria in the children's guts. Some babies had lower levels of the good bacteria, when compared to the other infants.

At age one, there wasn't much of a difference in the bacteria count among the studied patients. However some of the babies with the initial lower counts of good bacteria in their bellies went on to develop asthma.

“We are beginning to see what is in the gut does affect other things besides the gut. And there seems to be a relationship between certain kinds of bacteria in the gut and developing of asthma and allergies,” says Dr. Leonard Shapiro with Allergy & Asthma Associates.

The study says the use of antibiotics early in a child's life, or the use of formula instead of breast feeding, may contribute to the lower good bacteria counts in babies. Dr. Shapiro says C-Sections versus vaginal birth may, as well.

While some babies may need antibiotics at a young age, so may babies born by C-Section, Dr. Shapiro says the study only shows an association with a decrease in good bacteria in a baby’s gut and asthma. But he says the same study may further underscore the downside of the overuse of antibiotics in children and unnecessary C-Sections.