NOV 24, 2020 7:30 AM PST

Dirty Sheets Make Babies Healthier

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Microbiologists have established that the development of infants’ immune systems is intricately linked to the diversity of microorganisms they come into contact with as they grow. Exposure to more types of microbial life in infancy can actually be beneficial, building up more immune resistance and protecting against infections and allergies. A new study published in the journal Microbiome has revealed another piece in this incredibly complex puzzle — how “dirty” a baby’s bed is can influence the development of their microbiomes.

This work, led by Søren J. Sørensen, a biology professor at the University of Copenhagen, saw scientists analyzing bed dust and respiratory samples from almost 600 infants. The aim was to see if microorganisms in bed dust correlated in any way with the bacteria present in the microbiomes of their respiratory tracts.

“We see a correlation between the bacteria we find in bed dust and those we find in the children. While they are not the same bacteria, it is an interesting discovery that suggests that these bacteria affect each other. It may prove to have an impact on reducing asthma and allergy risks in later years,” said Sørensen.

“We are well aware that microorganisms living within us are important for our health, with regards to asthma and allergies for example, but also for human diseases such as diabetes [type 2] and obesity. But to get better at treating these diseases, we need to understand the processes by which microorganisms emerge during our earliest stages of life. And, it seems that the bed plays a role,” adds Sørensen.

Indeed, the dust samples from the babies’ beds had a total of almost 1000 different types of bacteria and fungi. According to the researchers, the samples taken from homes in a rural setting had much higher levels of microbes as compared to those in more urban areas.

“Previous studies inform us that city-dwellers have less diverse gut flora than people who live in more rural settings. This is typically attributed to their spending greater amounts of time outdoors and having more contact with nature. Our studies demonstrate that changes in bacterial flora in bed dust can be an important reason for this difference as well,” said Sørensen.

In future studies, the team plans to trace whether the bacterial flora in bedding is directly related to the onset of asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

 


Source: Microbiome, University of Copenhagen.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
SEP 17, 2020
Coronavirus
A Biomarker May Predict the Most Severe COVID-19 Cases
SEP 17, 2020
A Biomarker May Predict the Most Severe COVID-19 Cases
Researchers may have found a way to identify the COVID-19 patients that will need targeted therapies the most.
SEP 24, 2020
Immunology
Remember That Coronavirus You Once Met? Your T Cells Do.
SEP 24, 2020
Remember That Coronavirus You Once Met? Your T Cells Do.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, China and quickly escalated to a pandemic st ...
OCT 28, 2020
Microbiology
Immune Cells Link Gum Disease to Inflammatory DIsorders
OCT 28, 2020
Immune Cells Link Gum Disease to Inflammatory DIsorders
Scientists and clinicians know that oral health and inflammation, which is a part of many diseases, are connected.
NOV 01, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
There's More to Neutrophil Function Than We Knew
NOV 01, 2020
There's More to Neutrophil Function Than We Knew
Neutrophils are an abundant type of white blood cell that circulate in the blood that can provide a general defense aga ...
DEC 15, 2020
Immunology
Immunity-Boosting: Is It Real?
DEC 15, 2020
Immunity-Boosting: Is It Real?
The question everyone tries to find an answer to in the winter season is how can we improve our immunity to fight any in ...
JAN 20, 2021
Immunology
Gut Bacteria's Poison Arrows Exposed
JAN 20, 2021
Gut Bacteria's Poison Arrows Exposed
Bacteria armed with toxin bombs and excruciating abdominal pains caused by raging inflammation in the gut. While the cau ...
Loading Comments...