JUN 25, 2019 11:43 AM PDT

Kids Exposed to Farm Microbes Have a Lower Chance of Developing Asthma

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The bacteria we carry in our bodies is closely connected to our health. It's been shown that the outdoor environment is able to sustain a wide range of different microbes, and as urbanization rises, people are exposed to less of these microbes. As the diversity of the microbial community in our body increases, health outcomes improve, and lower levels of diversity are associated with disease. Researchers have now found that children that grow up on a farm that houses animals have half the risk of getting asthma as children that aren't around farms; the more a kid's home environment resembles a farmhouse, the lower their chances of developing asthma. The findings have been reported in Nature Medicine.

Image credit: Pxhere

In this work, researchers from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) assessed the indoor microbiomes of 1,000 German and 400 Finnish homes. Homes that were not on farms were found to have a different microbial composition than farm homes. Non-farm houses contained more microbes that are connected with humans, while on farms, there were more bacteria linked to cattle and soil. When homes contained many bacteria that are common outdoors, there was a protective effect against asthma. There were also fewer microbes that are associated with respiratory tract infections.

”We now discovered that the presence of farm-like microbiota in an early-life home seemed to protect from asthma also in urban homes.  The effect was not based on the presence of [a] large number of different microbial species but, rather, differences in the relative abundance of certain bacterial groups,” said Pirkka Kirjavainen, Senior Researcher at THL.

Other factors influenced the microbes that a home hosted, such as the number of kids, how old the house was and whether or not the occupants wore outdoor shoes inside, but none of those factors seemed to have an impact on the development of asthma.

Related: The Gut Microbiome Changes Dramatically When Hunter-gatherers Start Farming

“The key characteristic of microbiota in homes protecting from asthma appears to be [a] large abundance of bacteria which originate from the outdoor environment and are beneficial or harmless to health, relative to bacteria that are a potential threat to our health,” Kirjavainen commented.

"It is interesting to see how clear of a protective effect indoor microbiota can have against the development of asthma. In contrast, it has been considerably more difficult to identify microbiota that would explain the detrimental effect of moisture damage on asthma,” noted Professor Juha Pekkanen.

It may be possible to stop asthma from happening with the right bacteria. “The results suggest that asthma could be prevented in the future by modifying children's early microbial exposures,” concluded Pekkanen.

Learn more about how the microbes on a farm can affect a child's health from the video.

Sources: THL, Nature Medicine

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
OCT 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
Bacteria Caused the Deaths of Hundreds of Elephants
OCT 05, 2020
Bacteria Caused the Deaths of Hundreds of Elephants
African elephants are a threatened species that are increasing in some areas but at risk in many others. There are proba ...
OCT 09, 2020
Microbiology
Two Early Relatives of Rubella Are Discovered
OCT 09, 2020
Two Early Relatives of Rubella Are Discovered
Rubella is a contagious, airborne viral infection that can lead to rash, fever, and sore throat. It's especially dangero ...
OCT 18, 2020
Microbiology
Mouth Microbes Play a Role in Oral Cancer Development
OCT 18, 2020
Mouth Microbes Play a Role in Oral Cancer Development
Oral hygiene is not only important for keeping teeth and gums healthy; it can also affect a person's health in general.
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Researchers Confirm Link Between Alzheimer's and Gut Bacteria
NOV 15, 2020
Researchers Confirm Link Between Alzheimer's and Gut Bacteria
Researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland have confirmed the link between an imbalance of gut bacteria an ...
NOV 28, 2020
Microbiology
Potential Treatment ID'ed for Emerging Viral Disease
NOV 28, 2020
Potential Treatment ID'ed for Emerging Viral Disease
A mosquito-borne virus called VEEV has been emerging in South America. It causes symptoms that make it difficult to dist ...
DEC 02, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Expanding Our View of Cell Membranes
DEC 02, 2020
Expanding Our View of Cell Membranes
Many of the things biologists want to study are extremely small, and researchers now have many powerful tools for gettin ...
Loading Comments...