As someone who had fairly serious childhood asthma (I’ve since mostly outgrown it–though no marathons in my future) I found this story from ScienceNews sorta interesting:

Children infected with a common stomach bacterium are less likely to have asthma than other kids, according to a study that will appear in the Aug. 15 Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The bug in question, Helicobacter pylori, is a microbe with a history like no other. A longtime resident of the human stomach, H. pylori went largely undetected until Australian scientists discovered it in 1979 and went on to show that it can cause stomach ulcers. Further work has linked it to stomach cancer. It’s now treated with antibiotics whenever detected.

Because H. pylori had been hitchhiking in humans for so long — possibly 50,000 years or more — microbiologist Martin Blaser of New York University became interested in the possible consequences of knocking it out.

He suspected that widespread antibiotic use has been suppressing H. pylori infections in industrialized countries over the past half century. During that same time, asthma has increased markedly.

Children with the stomach bug were half as likely to suffer from asthma as children without.  But then again there’s that whole “linked to stomach ulcer/cancer” alternative.  Looks like another case of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 6:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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