American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting

February 21, 2015
2 min read

Microbial environmental factors increase childhood allergic disease risk

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HOUSTON — Microbial environmental exposures play a role in defining the risk for childhood allergic airway disease, according to Susan V. Lynch, PhD.

“This is indicated by the dramatic increase in prevalence, particularly in childhood allergic disease in the last several decades and the prevalence globally, which is really centered around industrialized western nations,” Lynch said during a plenary session here at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “As a microbiologist, I think about the microbial environment; in western nations humans have dramatically altered their interaction with environmental microbes.”

Data were collected from the Wayne County Health Environment Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study in Detroit.

According to Lynch, Associate Professor and Director of the Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Microbiome Research Core at the University of California San Francisco, the risk factors for childhood allergic asthma that also impact the microbiome are:

  • lack of maternal exposure to livestock or furred pets during pregnancy;
  • formula feeding;
  • caesarian section delivery;
  • maternal antibiotic use during pregnancy; and
  • early life antibiotic exposure.

“These factors really shape the microbial communities that reside in and on the human body and are essential for a variety of critical functions” she said. “In addition, much of the risk for developing childhood allergic asthma is centered around the in utero and neonatal phases of life.”

Factors that protect against allergic asthma development include early life exposure to dogs. Household that own dogs tend to have a greater diversity of bacteria present, the majority of which have been described in the human gut microbiome, Lynch said.

“There is a microbial differential in homes that have a dichotomous risk for allergic disease development,” she said. – by Samantha Costa

Disclosure: Lynch reports no relevant financial disclosures.


Lynch SV, et al. Plenary 2101. Presented at: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; Feb. 20-24, 2015; Houston.