NOV 24, 2020 7:30 AM PST

Dirty Sheets Make Babies Healthier

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Microbiologists have established that the development of infants’ immune systems is intricately linked to the diversity of microorganisms they come into contact with as they grow. Exposure to more types of microbial life in infancy can actually be beneficial, building up more immune resistance and protecting against infections and allergies. A new study published in the journal Microbiome has revealed another piece in this incredibly complex puzzle — how “dirty” a baby’s bed is can influence the development of their microbiomes.

This work, led by Søren J. Sørensen, a biology professor at the University of Copenhagen, saw scientists analyzing bed dust and respiratory samples from almost 600 infants. The aim was to see if microorganisms in bed dust correlated in any way with the bacteria present in the microbiomes of their respiratory tracts.

“We see a correlation between the bacteria we find in bed dust and those we find in the children. While they are not the same bacteria, it is an interesting discovery that suggests that these bacteria affect each other. It may prove to have an impact on reducing asthma and allergy risks in later years,” said Sørensen.

“We are well aware that microorganisms living within us are important for our health, with regards to asthma and allergies for example, but also for human diseases such as diabetes [type 2] and obesity. But to get better at treating these diseases, we need to understand the processes by which microorganisms emerge during our earliest stages of life. And, it seems that the bed plays a role,” adds Sørensen.

Indeed, the dust samples from the babies’ beds had a total of almost 1000 different types of bacteria and fungi. According to the researchers, the samples taken from homes in a rural setting had much higher levels of microbes as compared to those in more urban areas.

“Previous studies inform us that city-dwellers have less diverse gut flora than people who live in more rural settings. This is typically attributed to their spending greater amounts of time outdoors and having more contact with nature. Our studies demonstrate that changes in bacterial flora in bed dust can be an important reason for this difference as well,” said Sørensen.

In future studies, the team plans to trace whether the bacterial flora in bedding is directly related to the onset of asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

 


Source: Microbiome, University of Copenhagen.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUN 17, 2021
Immunology
How T Cells Sense Dangerous Invaders
JUN 17, 2021
How T Cells Sense Dangerous Invaders
T cells form a major part of our immune defenses, protecting us against the constant barrage of potentially pathogenic p ...
JUN 16, 2021
Immunology
Researchers Identify a Novel COVID Therapeutic Target and Mortality Predictor
JUN 16, 2021
Researchers Identify a Novel COVID Therapeutic Target and Mortality Predictor
Researchers at King’s College London have discovered a new antiviral target to combat COVID-19: the galectin-3-bin ...
JUL 06, 2021
Immunology
New Nanotechnology Delivers RNA Drugs Only to "Bad" Immune Cells
JUL 06, 2021
New Nanotechnology Delivers RNA Drugs Only to "Bad" Immune Cells
Inflammatory conditions are linked to an overactive immune system, and resolving them therapeutically often involves cal ...
JUL 08, 2021
Cancer
Activating p53 May Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapy
JUL 08, 2021
Activating p53 May Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapy
Pharmacological activation of the p53 protein in cancer cells leads to an anti-tumor immune response in lab tests. These ...
JUL 22, 2021
Immunology
"Stunning" Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Fermented Food Diet
JUL 22, 2021
"Stunning" Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Fermented Food Diet
Researchers at Stanford University have found that consuming fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha te ...
SEP 02, 2021
Immunology
Hobit Activates Cancer-Killing Immune Cells
SEP 02, 2021
Hobit Activates Cancer-Killing Immune Cells
Innate lymphoid cells, or ILCs, are specialized immune cells that are increasingly entering the research spotlight. Thes ...
Loading Comments...