The researchers analyzed meconium samples from 100 babies enrolled in the CHILD cohort study, a long-term health study of children in Canada. Meconium is a dark green substance composed of what the fetus ingests and excretes in the uterus, from skin cells and amniotic fluid to molecules called metabolites. A newborn usually passes meconium during the first day of life.
The study found that the fewer types of molecules a baby’s meconium contained, the greater the risk of developing allergies at the age of 1 year.
“Our analysis revealed that newborns who developed allergic sensitization after 1 year had significantly less“ rich ”meconium at birth, compared with those who did not develop allergic sensitization,” the co-author said. main of the study, Dra. Brett Finlay, in a news release from the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories of the university and in the departments of biochemistry and molecular biology, microbiology and immunology.
The researchers also found that a reduction in certain molecules was associated with changes in key bacterial groups that play a critical role in intestinal microbes, which are important in both health and disease.
“Meconium is like a time capsule, which reveals what infantile he was exposed before he was born. It contains all kinds of molecules that are found and accumulate in the mother while in the uterus, and then becomes the initial food source for the first intestinal microbes “, explains the author of the study, the Dr. Charisse Petersen, an associate researcher in the pediatric department of the UBC.
“This work shows that the development of a healthy immune system and microbiota can begin long before a baby is born, and indicates that small molecules to which babies are exposed in the womb play a key role in health. future, ”Petersen said. at launch.
The researchers used a machine learning algorithm to predict with 76% accuracy, which they said was a more reliable level than ever, whether or not a baby would develop allergies at the age of 1. The results of the study has important implications for at-risk infants, the authors said.
“We know that children with allergies have the highest risk of developing it as well asthma. We now have the opportunity to identify babies at risk who may benefit from early interventions before they begin to show signs and allergy symptoms or asthma later in life, ”said the study’s senior co-author, Dr. Stuart Turvey, a professor in the UBC pediatrics department and co-director of the CHILD cohort study.
The findings were published April 29 in the journal Cell Reports Medicine.
The American College of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology has more information allergies in children.
SOURCE: University of British Columbia, press release, April 29, 2021