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Babies benefit from bacteria exposure

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Exposure to more bacteria in the first month of life could help prevent eczema. Which leads me to question: Are we doing more harm than good by keeping our kids germ free?

A new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology connects low levels of gut microbiota (or beneficial bacteria) in infants with increased risk for atopic eczema later in life. The study, led by Thomas R. Abrahamsson, MD, PhD, examined the levels of certain intestinal bacteria at 1 week, 1 month, and 12 months of age in 20 infants with IgE-associated eczema and 20 infants without any allergic manifestation until 2 years of age.

Infants with IgE-associated eczema also had lower diversity of total microbiota at 1 month, and specificially lower diversity of the bacterial phylum Bacteroidetes and the genus Bacteroides. At 12 months those infants also showed a lower diversity of the phylum Proteobacteria, suggesting that these microbiota may play an important role in the development of atopic eczema.

In a world where we maniacally try to keep our kids germ free, are we doing more harm than good? This study also makes me wonder: How might this new research impact children’s nutrition? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

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