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A novel study published in mSystems special issue has provided new evidence that living near to natural green space in infancy may reduce a child's risk of developing inhalant allergies in early childhood and that it may be mediated by gut microbes.

The study on 699 children from the Edmonton site of the CHILD Study found that living near natural green space was protective against the development of multiple inhalant allergies at age 3 years. This association appeared to be mediated by changes to Actinobacteria diversity in infant stools samples taken at 4 months of age. The findings highlight the importance of promoting natural urban greenspace preservation to improve child health by reducing atopic disease susceptibility and point to a novel causal role of reduced Actinobacteria diversity on atopic sensitization development.

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A study published in Biomolecules has revealed that use of vitamin D supplements in infancy may differentially and independently influence infant gut microbiota metabolites. Using data on 575 infants from the CHILD Study, the study looked at whether use of infant vitamin D drops changes concentrations of certain metabolites, specifically glycerol and 1,2 propanediol (1,2-PD) concentrations, in the stools of infants at 3 months of age and characterized associations between these two molecules, and gut microbiota and their metabolites.

The study revealed that infants given vitamin D supplements were more likely to have high 1,2-PD and less likely to have high fecal glycerol compared to those not given vitamin D. Fecal 1,2-PD and glycerol concentrations were found to be negatively correlated with each other. Positive correlations between fecal 1,2-PD, Bifidobacteriaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and acetate levels were also observed.

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A study published in Metabolites is the first to characterize gut microbe-metabolite mediated pathways for early-life SIgA maturation. The study involving 1017 CHILD Study infants sought to determined the impact of birth mode and breastfeeding status on fecal SIgA levels of infants at 3 and 12 months and identify potential mediating pathways involving infant gut microbiota and metabolites.

Using statistical mediation methods the study identified candidate metabolic pathways involving galactose, fucose, GABA, choline, lactate, pyruvate and 1,2-propanediol to altered gut immunity in young infants following cesarean section delivery. When breastfeeding is lower following cesarean, the reduced availability of these milk and microbiota metabolites leads to lowered SIgA levels in the infant gut. Hence, the benefit of breastfeeding on gut immunity following cesarean delivery is not only direct provision of SIgA to the nursing infant but also promotion of an infant’s own gut SIgA production through milk-related metabolites.

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