Covid ‘pandemic babies’ show two ‘fascinating’ biological changes, research shows

  • Babies born during pandemic-era lockdowns have an altered gut microbiome
  • Only 17% of babies born during lockdown required antibiotics at the age of one year
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Lockdowns during the Covid pandemic have led to two ‘fascinating’ changes in babies’ bodies that may have protected them from illness and allergies, a study has found.

Researchers from University College Cork in Ireland found that children born while the world was in lockdown during Covid-19 had an altered gut microbiome – the ecosystem of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut that help with digestion, harmful destroy bacteria and help maintain control. the immune system.

The biome was found to be more favorable in infants.

Researchers believe this has led to ‘Covid babies’ suffering less allergic conditions, such as food allergies, than expected, compared to pre-pandemic babies, the scientists found.

They also needed fewer antibiotics to treat diseases.

Babies born during a lockdown have an altered gut microbiome, researchers from University College Cork in Ireland have discovered

Researchers analyzed fecal samples from 351 Irish babies born in the first three months of the pandemic, between March and May 2020, and compared them with samples from babies born before the pandemic.

Online questionnaires were used to collect information on diet, home environment and health to account for variables.

Stool samples were collected at six, 12 and 24 months and allergy testing was performed at 12 and 24 months.

The newborns with Covid-19 were found to have more of the beneficial microbes they received from their mothers after birth, which could serve as a defense against allergic diseases.

If individuals have a disrupted gut microbiome, it can lead to the development of food allergies.

Babies born during the pandemic had lower allergy rates, with around five per cent of Covid babies having developed a food allergy by age one, compared to 22.8 per cent of pre-Covid babies.

Researchers said mothers passed the beneficial microbes to their babies during pregnancy, and received even more microbes from the environment after birth.

The study also found that babies born during lockdowns had fewer infections because they were not exposed to germs and bacteria.

This meant they needed fewer antibiotics – which kill good bacteria – leading to a better microbiome.

The lockdown babies were also breastfed for longer, which provided additional benefits.

Of Covid babies, only 17 percent of babies needed an antibiotic at the age of one year.

In the pre-pandemic cohort, meanwhile, 80 percent of babies had used antibiotics by 12 months.

This was a “fascinating outcome,” said co-senior author Liam O’Mahony, professor of immunology at University College Cork, and “correlated with higher levels of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria.”

Professor Jonathan Hourihane, pediatrician at Children’s Health Ireland Temple Street and co-senior author of the study, said: ‘This study provides a new perspective on the impact of early life social isolation on the gut microbiome.

‘In particular, the lower allergy rates among newborns during lockdown could highlight the impact of lifestyle and environmental factors, such as frequent antibiotic use, on the emergence of allergic diseases.’

The researchers hope to re-examine the children when they are five years old to see if there are any long-term effects of the early changes in the gut microbiome.

The research was published in the journal Allergy.