Purpose of review: Microbiota consist of symbiotic microscopic neighbors that interact on and within our bodies in diverse and incompletely understood ways throughout our lifetime. Though various associations with allergic disease have been described, clear effective therapeutic interventions to prevent allergy have been elusive.
Recent findings: The human microbiome is influenced by multiple factors, including: mode of infant delivery (vaginal vs. cesarean section), breastfeeding, diet, presence of siblings and pets, exposure to antibiotics and other medications (particularly antacids), lifestyle, and developmental context. Microbial species promoting atopic responses and tolerance have been described. Specific microbiota likely act through distinct metabolic pathways to promote the health of their human hosts, optimally directing the developing immune system away from pro-allergic, Th2-dominated responses to more T-regulatory-influenced behaviors.
Summary: Evidence suggests that specific healthy infant microbiome signatures may influence development of some components of the allergic march of childhood by decreasing atopic dermatitis, asthma, and food allergy. Further understanding of factors that influence healthy microbiota may lead to specific strategies tailored for early intervention and disease prevention.