Over the past decades, the incidence of chronic diseases has markedly increased. A recently published publication hypotheses that loss of ancestral bacterial species could have caused this trend. Are chronic diseases a result of missing microbes?
The incidence of chronic diseases such as obesity, allergies and diabetes is increasing, not only in developed countries but also in Western society. Although these diseases affect different body systems, some scientists believe they might be related through alterations in the human microbiome.
The thirst three years are a crucial period of life in which the context is set for functioning of the immune system, organs and the brain. The theory of disappearing microbes proposes that this equilibrium has been disrupted by the loss of crucial microbial taxa caused by elements of modern life. For example, antibiotic use during pregnancy, formula feeding, caesarean sections, and improved hygiene, al impact the diversity of our microbiome.
Dr. Martin Blaser about 'Missing Microbes"
We have long thought that antibiotic use or other disturbances only had a short-term impact to our health, but we know now that, particular in young children, these disturbances may have long-term health effects. The loss of commensal bacteria throughout life and decreased passage from generation to generation is steadily worsening and could alter the context in which immunological, metabolic and cognitive development occur in early life, resulting in increased disease.
A model for the interaction of the inherited microbiota with early life immunological development in past and present children.
Source: Early life immunology. The theory of disappearing microbiota and the epidemics of chronic diseases. Martin J. Blaser 2017.
This idea is relevant for clinicians because they can take efforts to reverse the underlying circumstances that are responsible for our disappearing microbiota. Understanding the threats and stopping the damage to the next generation would be the first steps in this. When we better understand for example how our immune system develops and the role of our microbiota in this, we could intervene when necessary with e.g. drugs, prebiotics, probiotic or combinations of these compounds.
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