Infant gut microbiota and food sensitization: Associations in the first year of life

CHILD study investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Background: The gut microbiota is established during infancy and plays a fundamental role in shaping host immunity. Colonization patterns may influence the development of atopic disease, but existing evidence is limited and conflicting. Objective: To explore associations of infant gut microbiota and food sensitization. Methods: Food sensitization at 1 year was determined by skin prick testing in 166 infants from the population-based Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. Faecal samples were collected at 3 and 12 months, and microbiota was characterized by Illumina 16S rRNA sequencing. Results: Twelve infants (7.2%) were sensitized to ≥ 1 common food allergen at 1 year. Enterobacteriaceae were overrepresented and Bacteroidaceae were underrepresented in the gut microbiota of food-sensitized infants at 3 months and 1 year, whereas lower microbiota richness was evident only at 3 months. Each quartile increase in richness at 3 months was associated with a 55% reduction in risk for food sensitization by 1 year (adjusted odds ratio 0.45, 95% confidence interval 0.23-0.87). Independently, each quartile increase in Enterobacteriaceae/Bacteroidaceae ratio was associated with a twofold increase in risk (2.02, 1.07-3.80). These associations were upheld in a sensitivity analysis among infants who were vaginally delivered, exclusively breastfed and unexposed to antibiotics. At 1 year, the Enterobacteriaceae/Bacteroidaceae ratio remained elevated among sensitized infants, who also tended to have decreased abundance of Ruminococcaceae. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Low gut microbiota richness and an elevated Enterobacteriaceae/Bacteroidaceae ratio in early infancy are associated with subsequent food sensitization, suggesting that early gut colonization may contribute to the development of atopic disease, including food allergy

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-643
Number of pages12
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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