Bacteria Going Away, Asthma on the Rise...

Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that naturally exists in our stomachs, is on the decline in people, but now asthma is on the rise—are they related? Dr. Martin Blaser M.D., chairman of medicine and microbiology professor at New York University, thinks so. Via NPR:
Several years ago, researchers proposed the provocative idea that bacteria living in the human stomach could be responsible for the development of some stomach ulcers — and the doctors found that treating those bacteria, H. pylori, with antibiotics could reduce ulcer risk. New research suggests, however, that those bacteria may not be all bad — they could help prevent the development of childhood asthma.

Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the scientists report that children between the ages of 3 and 13 are nearly 59 percent less likely to have asthma if they have the bacterium in their gut. The children were also 40 percent less likely to have hay fever and associated allergies such as eczema and rash.

The cause for the link isn't exactly clear, though the researchers believe that people with the bacteria have more immune cells called regulatory T cells. They say the surplus cells prevent the immune system from overreacting to allergens, which can trigger asthma and allergies like hay fever.
Here’s some of the abstract to Dr. Blaser’s study from The Journal of Infectious Disease. Take a look:
Methods: We conducted cross-sectional analyses, using data from 7412 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2000, to assess the association between H. pylori and childhood asthma.

Conclusions: This study is the first to report an inverse association between H. pylori seropositivity and asthma in children. The findings indicate new directions for research and asthma prevention.
Perhaps all these antibiotics we’re shoveling down our throats are REALLY working against us. Again, Dr. Blaser thinks this might be the case. For more, check out the audio to the NPR report: Stomach Bacteria Could Prevent Asthma.
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Jean - September 22, 2008 2:05 PM

Why don't the researchers check on the relationship between pregnant mother's with Asthma and WHY, the asthma dissappears in them??? And then returns shortly after the babies are born?? I don't understand why it hasn't already been reseached. I've had Asthma for 25 years and have 3 children. During my pregnanies, my asthma cleared up. I could breathe again and it was wonderful. It's a hormone change and why isn't there any reseach on it.


Jenny Garrett - October 13, 2010 3:06 PM

I had severe allergies all of my life, until the birth of my 3rd and 4th kids (twins) whereby all of my allergies disappeared! I am allergy free now and have never felt better. I have heard from a scientist in my neighborhood this same theory that the bacteria in the intestines is related to asthma and allergies (both of which my children have) and therefore one way to address their illness is to up their intake of probiotics, Stonyfield Yogurt, and milk. Does anyone else have insights on this? I was thinknig maybe I should take them OFF of milk to possibly help their allergies. The asthma, however, is the more serious issue, honestly, and flares up when they catch colds. We are also working on lowering our sugar intake, upping our vegetable and fruit intake and lowering the inflammatory food intake.

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