Your Airway Microbiome Can Predict Asthma Flare-Ups, Study Finds

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
This Microbiome Might Determine The Severity Of Asthma, Study Finds

Image by Nicola Katie / iStock

More than 6 million children in the U.S. have asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Some children might not experience any issues breathing, but for others a flare-up can lead to strained and painful breathing, making it the third-ranking cause of hospitalizations in children under 15.

Until now, scientists have had little understanding of the link between airway microbiota and asthma attacks. A new study published in Nature Communications, however, found specific bacteria present in the upper airway microbiome that might predict the severity of asthma in children. 

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine studied data from 214 children between 5 and 11 years old, each with moderate or mild asthma. 

When children showed warning signs of asthmatic episodes, they were more likely to have three types of bacterial groups (Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Moraxella) present in their upper airway passages. 

Opposite of that, children who had Corynebacterium and Dolosigranulum bacteria were more likely to experience good health and not be affected by their asthma. 

When airway microbiomes shifted from the two good bacterias to suddenly being dominated by Moraxella, children were at the highest risk of developing worsening conditions. Other shifts in the microbiome did not have significant effects.

"Asthma exacerbations have high impact on children, their families, the health care system, and may lead to subsequent decline in lung function," the study says. By identifying potential triggers, researchers hope they can manipulate the microbiome to prevent them and in turn reduce future respiratory illness and wheezing.

"If we somehow supplement such patients with what appear to be good bacteria, will they do better?" That's the question senior author Avraham Beigelman, M.D., is asking. "We are interested in studying whether we can deliberately alter the airway microbiome to reduce the risk of worsening asthma symptoms," he said in a news release.

In the meantime, here are some natural ways to treat your child's asthma and other chronic inflammation, according to a pediatrician. 

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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