The striking findings from a series of studies further advance the so-called hygiene hypothesis theory that early childhood exposure to microorganisms affects the immune system's development and onset of allergies, says Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences and principal research investigator.
The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms in the gastrointestional, or GI, tract, and the human body has billions of these microbes. The GI tract contains what scientists often call a bacterial ecosystem. The gut microbiome is known to play an important role in immune system development, and is thought to contribute to a host of diseases like obesity, autoimmune diseases, circulating disorders and pediatric allergies and infection.
"For years now, we've always thought that a sterile environment was not good for babies. Our research shows why. Exposure to these microorganisms, or bacteria, in the first few months after birth actually help stimulate the immune system," Dr. Johnson says.
"The immune system is designed to be exposed to bacteria on a grand scale. If you minimize those exposures, the immune system won't develop optimally." - ScienceDaily