Yeast found in babies' guts increases risk of asthma

February 17, 2017

University of British Columbia microbiologists have found a yeast in the gut of new babies in Ecuador that appears to be a strong predictor that they will develop asthma in childhood. The new research furthers our understanding of the role microscopic organisms play in our overall health.

"Children with this type of yeast called Pichia were much more at risk of ," said Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at UBC. "This is the first time anyone has shown any kind of association between yeast and asthma."

In previous research, Finlay and his colleagues identified four gut bacteria in Canadian children that, if present in the first 100 days of life, seem to prevent asthma. In a followup to this study, Finlay and his colleagues repeated the experiment using fecal samples and health information from 100 children in a rural village in Ecuador.

Canada and Ecuador both have high rates of asthma with about 10 per cent of the population suffering from the disease.

They found that while play a role in preventing asthma in Ecuador, it was the presence of a microscopic fungus or yeast known as Pichia that was more strongly linked to asthma. Instead of helping to prevent asthma, however, the presence of Pichia in those early days puts children at risk.

Finlay also suggests there could be a link between the risk of asthma and the cleanliness of the environment for Ecuadorian children. As part of the study, the researchers noted whether had access to clean water.

UBC microbiologist Brett Finlay found a yeast in the gut of new babies in Ecuador that appears to be a strong predictor that they will develop asthma in childhood. Credit: UBC Public Affairs

"Those that had access to good, had much higher asthma rates and we think it is because they were deprived of the beneficial microbes," said Finlay. "That was a surprise because we tend to think that clean is good but we realize that we actually need some dirt in the world to help protect you."

Now Finlay's colleagues will re-examine the Canadian samples and look for the presence of in the gut of infants. This technology was not available to the researchers when they conducted their initial study.

Explore further: Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants

More information: This research was presented today at the 2017 annual meeting for Association for the Advancement of Science: aaas.confex.com/aaas/2017/webprogram/Session15097

Related Stories

Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants

September 30, 2015
New research by scientists at UBC and BC Children's Hospital finds that infants can be protected from getting asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age. More than 300 families from across Canada ...

Exposure to antibiotics linked to severity of allergic asthma: research

March 16, 2012
Widely used antibiotics may increase incidence and severity of allergic asthma in early life, according to a University of British Columbia study.

Odds of having asthma 53 percent higher in food deserts

November 11, 2016
Living in a food desert - an urban area where it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food - means you're at increased risk to have asthma. Children who were studied who did not have access to fresh fruits ...

Alternative treatment approaches may be needed for some children with asthma

October 5, 2016
A new study by Henry Ford Health System in collaboration with eight other health systems in large U.S. cities, has identified a group of children with asthma that may require a different treatment approach.

Study links optimal asthma control with reduced health-care costs

November 10, 2016
In a study of 736 asthma patients in Singapore, good asthma control resulted in a saving of S$65 (US$48) per physician visit. Compared with an average cost of S$214 (US$158) per visit, this reduction represents a cost saving ...

Are childhood asthma rates declining?

January 12, 2016
Childhood asthma has made headlines in recent years because of an upward trend in the number of cases. That may have changed: A government study published in the journal Pediatrics shows asthma rates may be leveling off or ...

Recommended for you

Bioengineers imagine the future of vaccines and immunotherapy

December 14, 2017
In the not-too-distant future, nanoparticles delivered to a cancer patient's immune cells might teach the cells to destroy tumors. A flu vaccine might look and feel like applying a small, round Band-Aid to your skin.

Immune cells turn back time to achieve memory

December 13, 2017
Memory T cells earn their name by embodying the memory of the immune system - they help the body remember what infections or vaccines someone has been exposed to. But to become memory T cells, the cells go backwards in time, ...

Steroid study sheds light on long term side effects of medicines

December 13, 2017
Fresh insights into key hormones found in commonly prescribed medicines have been discovered, providing further understanding of the medicines' side effects.

The immune cells that help tumors instead of destroying them

December 12, 2017
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths. One of the most promising ways to treat it is by immunotherapy, a strategy that turns the patient's immune system against the tumor. In the past twenty years, ...

Cancer gene plays key role in cystic fibrosis lung infections

December 12, 2017
PTEN is best known as a tumor suppressor, a type of protein that protects cells from growing uncontrollably and becoming cancerous. But according to a new study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), PTEN has a second, ...

Researchers bring new insight into Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a devastating genetic disease

December 12, 2017
A team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health and University of Manchester have uncovered new insights into a rare genetic disease, with less than 500 cases of the disease on record, which devastates the lives ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.