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Baby's First Poop Can Tell Whether Or Not A Child Will Develop Allergies Later In Life

Baby's first poop can reveal what the infant was exposed to before it was born.

The fewer different types of molecules a baby's first poop contained, the greater the child's risk of developing allergies by one year, according to a new study.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : May 3, 2021 8:43 AM IST

Usually, a newborn pass the first poop within the first day of life, i.e. 24 hours after birth. Don't get panic after seeing your baby's greenish-brown poop, it's normal. The baby s first poop or meconium is different from regular faeces and there is nothing to worry about in most cases. But do not just throw away your baby's first diaper, it can reveal a lot about his/her future health. The composition of a baby's first poop can predict whether or not a child will develop allergies within their first year of life, wrote a team of University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers in a new study published in Cell Reports Medicine.

After analyzing meconium samples from 100 infants, the UBC researchers found that newborns who developed allergic sensitization by one year of age had significantly less 'rich' meconium at birth, compared to those who didn't develop allergic sensitization. The fewer different types of molecules a baby's meconium contained, the greater the child's risk of developing allergies by one year, they said. In addition, they found an association between the reduction in certain molecules in the first poop of the babies with changes to key bacterial groups that play a critical role in the development and maturation of a vast ecosystem of gut microbes, known as the microbiota, which is a powerful player in health and disease.

These findings show that the development of a healthy immune system and microbiota may actually start well before a child is born -- and signals that the tiny molecules an infant is exposed to in the womb play a fundamental role in future health, noted the study's lead author Dr. Charisse Petersen, a research associate in UBC's department of pediatrics.

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What is your baby's first poop made of?

According to the researchers, meconium or your baby's first stool is made up of a variety of materials ingested and excreted during development. It consists of a mix of skin, mucus, bile, lanugo or the body hair that has been shed in the uterus and amniotic fluid (which your baby swallows while floating on it) and various molecules known as metabolites. When your baby's poop changes from greenish-brown to yellow, it means that the little one's system is free of meconium.

"Meconium is like a time capsule, revealing what the infant was exposed to before it was born. It contains all sorts of molecules encountered and accumulated from the mother while in the womb, and it then becomes the initial food source for the earliest gut microbes," Dr. Petersen explained in the paper.

The study findings have important implications for infants who are at risk of developing allergies because children with allergies are also at the highest risk of developing asthma, said the researchers. This provides an opportunity to identify at-risk infants who could benefit from early interventions before they even begin to show signs and symptoms of allergies or asthma later in life, added the study's senior co-author Dr. Stuart Turvey, a professor in UBC's department of pediatrics, investigator at BC Children's Hospital and co-director of the CHILD Cohort Study.

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