By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Your risk for allergies and asthma may depend on what lives inside you when you’re a baby.

Researchers looked for clues in the intestines of infants followed through childhood to see if they developed these conditions.

Based on the types of germs that lived in the digestive tract throughout the study, the participants were divided into groups.

One group had the highest incidence of allergies at age two and asthma at age three.

“They had distinctly different bacteria,” says Dr. James DeAngelo of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

This high risk group lacked good bacteria and had a higher level of certain fungi. The microbial environment is important, because of how the microbes process fats. The byproducts feed certain immune system cells which keep inflammation in check.

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Is there anything you can do to change the nature of your baby’s intestines?

“Having a dog in the house seems to be beneficial, children innoculating themselves, touching dirty things, like the toilet, touching their mouth, all those yuck things which we thought were yuck seem to be beneficial so cleaning things with lysol and washing fruits and vegetables excessively may not be particularly helpful necessarily, and we may be changing our recommendations at some date in the future,” Dr. DeAngelo continues.

And it’s not clear that introducing the right bacteria later in life would help.

“Early in infancy is when the gut instructs the immune system to determine friend from foe,” Dr. DeAngelo explains.

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