It may seem unusual to seek answers, but the contents of a baby’s first diaper can tell a lot about a newborn baby’s future health.
In a new study published today in Cell Reports Medicine, a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) showed that the makeup of a baby’s first poop – a thick, dark green substance called meconium – is associated with whether or not a child will develop allergies in its first year of life.
“Our analysis revealed that newborns who developed allergic sensitization at one year of age had significantly less ‘rich’ meconium at birth than those who did not develop allergic sensitization,” explains the Study co-lead author Dr Brett Finlay, a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Microbiology and Immunology at UBC.
Meconium, which is usually passed on during the first day of life, is made up of a variety of materials that are ingested and excreted during development, ranging from skin cells, amniotic fluid, and various molecules called metabolites.
“Meconium is like a time capsule, revealing what the infant has been exposed to before birth. It contains all kinds of molecules encountered and accumulated by the mother in the womb, and it then becomes the initial food source for the first intestinal microbes. Says lead author of the study, Dr. Charisse Petersen, Associate Researcher in the Department of Pediatrics at UBC.
As part of the study, researchers analyzed meconium samples from 100 infants enrolled in the CHILD Cohort Study (CHILD), a world-renowned birth cohort study in maternal, newborn health research. and infantile.
They found that the fewer different types of molecules in a baby’s meconium, the more likely the child was to develop allergies within a year. They also found that a reduction in certain molecules was associated with changes in key bacterial groups. These groups of bacteria play an essential role in the development and maturation of a large ecosystem of gut microbes, known as the microbiota, which is a powerful player in health and disease.
“This work shows that the development of a healthy immune system and microbiota can actually start long before a child is born – and signals that the tiny molecules an infant is exposed to in the womb play a fundamental role.” in future health, ”says Dr Petersen.
Using a machine learning algorithm, the researchers combined meconium, microbes, and clinical data to predict with a high degree of accuracy (76%), and more reliably than ever, whether an infant may or may not develop allergies by the age of one. .
The study’s results have important implications for infants at risk, the researchers say.
“We know that children with allergies are most at risk of developing asthma as well. We now have the opportunity to identify at-risk infants who might benefit from early interventions even before they start showing signs and symptoms of allergies or asthma later in life. Said study co-lead author Dr. Stuart Turvey, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, researcher at BC Children’s Hospital and co-director of the CHILD cohort study.
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