Regulating the gut microflora may help postpone the onset of type 1 diabetes in children at risk of developing the disease, new research suggests.
A food supplement or yoghurt enriched with a mix of certain microbes or self-produced substances could be developed for children with a high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes, according to research carried out over decades in Finland and Estonia.
Such microbes or substances should be in a harmless form for the child, yet can help to preserve their immune system stimulating effect, according to the research report from the Children’s Clinic at Tartu University Hospital in Estonia.
According to Professor Vallo Tillmann, head of the clinic, that although finding an efficient and harmless combination of bacteria for disease prevention is not easy, it is possible.
The idea occurred to the research scientists after they had compared new babies in three countries in the course of the long term DIABIMMUNE study and found that the immune system of the new borns in Karelia was more mature and better developed than that of infants in Estonia and Finland.
The study also confirmed that the richness and diversity of intestinal bacteria provides better protection against type 1 diabetes.
It was also found that in Karelian children’s intestines there were more of the escherichia coli bacteria that effectively stimulate immune system. These bacteria have been shown in studies involving mice to be able to slow down the onset of type 1 diabetes.
This information is particularly important now that increasingly more children develop type 1 diabetes at an increasingly younger age. Paediatricians are also worried about the growing occurrence of allergies, about which the allergy study of children participating in the DIABIMMUNE survey also revealed new information.
Specifically, it was discovered that birthplace near a forest predicts higher resistance to allergies. Children, whose birthplace was surrounded with more forest and grasslands in a two to five kilometre radius, were less prone to developing allergies.
‘This relation is truly interesting and probably reveals through the effect of the environmental microbiome or collection of microbes on the human skin microflora, in which the protebacteria microbes have a significant role,’ said Tillmann.
‘The number of microbe species is bigger where the number of different plant and animal species is bigger, in the middle of green nature,’ he added.
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