Pollution would harm the microbiota of babies

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Pollution would harm the microbiota babies

Exposure to pollution influences the development of a baby's gut flora during the first six months of life, according to American researchers.

Exposure to air pollution influences the development of a baby's intestinal flora during the first six months of life, American researchers have found, which could then have multiple repercussions on his health.

An altered microbiota could notably increase the child's risk of suffering from allergies, obesity and diabetes. These changes could even interfere with his brain development, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have warned.

“The first years of life are a crucial stage in the development of the gut microbiota. The microbiota is a bit like a blank canvas that will be gradually formed […] by the child's environment, by what he eats, by interaction with people, especially with the mother, and air pollution could play a role in this in different ways. »

— Frédéric Raymond, professor at Université Laval

The by-products of the bacteria that make up the intestinal flora can influence such diverse facets of health as appetite, immunity and cognition. They have also been associated with chronic health problems.

The American researchers studied around 100 babies of Hispanic origin who had been mainly breastfed. They then used their postcode to measure their exposure to air pollution, including ultra-fine particles PM2.5 and PM10, produced by factories and construction sites among others, and nitrogen dioxide, which is mostly produced by cars.

Generally, the researchers explained in a press release, greater exposure to air pollution was associated with a microbiota with a more inflammatory profile.

For example, they illustrated, children most exposed to PM2.5 particles had 60% less of a bacteria that fights inflammation and may help brain development. Those most exposed to PM10 particles had 85% more of a bacteria with inflammatory effects.

These same researchers had previously made similar observations in young adults. They recommend that women who wish to protect their baby's microbiota from the effects of pollution breastfeed for as long as possible.

Breastfeeding protects babies in many ways.

The interactions between pollutants that enter babies' lungs and their microbiota are probably not very intense, Prof Raymond said, but if you live in an environment where you are constantly exposed to pollutants, it can become more chronic, it may have some more lasting impacts.

“When I saw that article, it didn’t bother me. #x27;was not shocked. This is another building block in understanding the connection between our environment, pollution and what is going on in our body.

— Frédéric Raymond, Université Laval

Research has evolved a lot over the past 10 or 15 years, he added, and researchers understand better and better the mechanisms by which the microbiota can influence health, even if there is still much to learn.

The conclusions of this study were published by the scientific journal Gut Microbes.

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