Intestinal Microbiome Linked To Pediatric Asthma Interview with:

Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, Professor, Dept Pediatrics Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta Edmonton, AB 

Dr. Kozyrskyj

Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, Professor, Dept Pediatrics
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: I was motivated to study the maternal asthma-infant microbiome link by the well-established fact that maternal asthma affects infant birth weight in a sex-specific manner. Based on data from AllerGen’s CHILD birth cohort, Caucasian baby boys born to pregnant moms with asthma—putting them at the highest risk for developing asthma in early childhood—were one-third as likely to have high levels of the microbe, Lactobacillus, in their gut microbiome at 3-4 months after birth. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Family risk for asthma—typically passed from moms to babies—may not be a result of genetics alone: it may also involve the gut microbes normally found in a baby’s digestive tract. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: While it might be tempting to conclude that our findings support probiotic supplementation to prevent allergic disease, they must be confirmed in other cohorts. Further, many lactobacillus-containing probiotics have been tested during pregnancy and in the infant after birth for their effectiveness in reducing allergic disease onset. Probiotic efficacy is strongest in preventing allergic eczema but weakest in preventing asthma from developing. However, it’s possible that the efficacy of lactobacillus probiotics is specific to sex biology. This “precision medicine” approach to individualize supplementation according to the characteristics of the infant, for example infant gender, requires formal testing in clinical trials. What studies might you be planning for follow up?

Response: Our plan is to link these findings to the development of allergic disease in the CHILD birth cohort as children get older. CHILD cohort children are currently being assessed at age 5 for the presence of asthma and allergies. We are also exploring other sex-microbiome-disease links. For example, male infants who are treated with antibiotics are more likely than girls to become overweight. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: This study was funded by the Microbiome Initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. For further information on the CHILD birth cohort study, please see this link: CHILD Study Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Eur Respir J. 2017 Nov 22;50(5). pii: 1700280. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00280-2017. Print 2017 Nov.

Sex-specific impact of asthma during pregnancy on infant gut microbiota.

Koleva PT1, Tun HM1, Konya T2, Guttman DS3, Becker AB4, Mandhane PJ1, Turvey SE5, Subbarao P6, Sears MR7, Scott JA2, Kozyrskyj AL8; CHILD Study Investigators.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on December 15, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD