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Infant Diet, Eczema and Caesarean Section Birth All Impact the Gut Bacteria of Children

AAAAI News Release

February 4, 2021

April Presnell
(414) 272-6071

Research published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, an official journal of the AAAAI, takes a closer look at what factors alter gut bacteria in infants.

According to research published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) that examined the interactions between gut bacteria, diet and atopic disease, gut bacteria is impacted not only by eczema and infant diet—but also caesarean section birth.

The Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) study examined 1,303 exclusively breastfed infants from three months of age. Stool samples were collected at baseline and additional sampling was done during month six and 12. Baseline samples that were obtained demonstrated that gut microbiota varied even before differences in diets. Researchers continued to examine each participant for eczema and food allergies up until they reached age three.

Infants at three months and one year of age who had eczema had a higher number of bacteria called Clostridium sensu stricto than infants who did not have eczema. Infants introduced early to allergenic foods such as cow’s milk, egg, and peanut starting at three months of age developed a larger variety of gut bacteria at a faster pace than infants exclusively breastfeeding. On the other end of the spectrum, infants born via caesarean section showed less diverse gut bacteria compared to infants born with a more traditional birth.  

The study was funded by the British Skin Foundation and led by a group of researchers from King’s College London and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, along with collaborators from the National Institute of Health (USA), St, George’s London, and the University of Manchester.

Professor Carsten Flohr, PhD, the paper’s first author, commented on the study results. “Our study has found a higher risk of eczema in infants with a higher abundance of Clostridium sensu stricto in their gut, and weaning from three months of age alongside breastfeeding speeds up the maturation of the gut flora. Since there is a relationship between the type of bacteria in the gut and the development of eczema, we now need to find ways to manipulate the gut bacteria in early life to reduce the likelihood of eczema in babies predisposed to develop it."

You can learn more about food allergies and eczema on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website,

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has over 7,000 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.