The microbiome’s influence on allergies in Australia’s Chinese children

It has been proposed that the rising incidence of allergies in the western world may be influenced by modifications to the human microbiome caused by the western environment and/or lifestyle. To further explore this theory, researchers in Western Australia studied the microbiome and allergy status of 58 Chinese children living in Australia and 63 Chinese children living in Hebi City, China.

Almost 73 per cent of the group living in Australia were born in Australia. The remaining children in this group were born in China and had been living in Australia with a median duration of 4.6 years. There were no significant differences in gender, age, body mass index, birth delivery method, breastfed percentage and antibiotic usage between the participants living in Australia and those in China.

The percentages of atopy, food allergy, and current wheeze were all significantly higher among the children in Australia compared with the children in China.

Microbiome samples were collected through mouth and throat (oropharyngeal microbiome) swabs, and faecal samples (gut microbiome). The Australian Chinese children were found to have a lower microbial diversity richness and higher diversity evenness compared to the children in China.

These and other findings lead the researchers to conclude that the microbiome profiles appear to be changed by the western environment/lifestyle and these changes are associated with allergies in Chinese children living in Australia.

Reference: Guo et al. 2019. World Allergy Organization Journal. Vol 12 (8). Doi: /10.1016/j.waojou.2019.100051 Open Access article.