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Bacteria Viruses and Parasites in infancy may increase risks of heart disease later in life
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Newborns have weak immune systems. As a result, they are more susceptible to certain diseases than older children and adults.
Their new immune systems have not yet developed enough to fight the bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause these infections.
Together, bacteria and viruses make up most of the infection experience in newborns. Newborns can get infections before, during, and after birth.
Shortly after birth, a baby’s immune system begins to mature, rapidly reducing the number of infections a child has.
Still, a brief period of vulnerability can have serious implications for a child’s future health.
Researchers have uncovered a potential link between childhood infections and cardiovascular disease risk later in life, opening the door to targeted interventions.
In the study, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and published in eLife on May 10, 2022, researchers found elevated inflammatory markers and metabolism (where the body’s cells convert food to infection) in susceptible infants.
Changes in the way nutrients are processed into energy) were similar to those seen in adults at risk for cardiovascular disease.
According to Dr Toby Mansell of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the results mean that cumulative infections in childhood may predispose adults to heart disease, obesity, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
He said: “We found that the risk of adult-onset cardiovascular disease may accumulate from early life. We know that infants are susceptible to infection. This leads to inflammation, which is a key cardiometabolic risk factor, but in this study Prior to this study, the relationship between infection, inflammation and metabolic profile in early childhood remained underexplored.”
The study involved 555 infants from the Barbarian Infant Study, a collaboration between Barbara Health, Murdoch Children’s Hospital and Deakin University, which tracked infant infections for 12 months.
The study found that by 12 months of age, high infection rates in infants were associated with elevated inflammatory markers and changes in metabolic profiles that affect how the body processes fats, proteins and sugars.
Professor David Burgner from Murdoch Children’s Hospital said infection had been identified as a potential cause of cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in adults worldwide.
Cardiovascular disease accounts for a quarter of all deaths in Australia, killing one person every 10 minutes.
More than 4 million Australians suffer from cardiovascular disease, and every minute someone is hospitalized for the disease.
Professor Bergner said the research offers opportunities for early preventive measures, such as identifying the type of infection and children at highest risk, and how to counteract those risks with simple interventions.
“Targeted actions could include promoting breastfeeding, ensuring timely vaccinations, and supporting families so they can keep children at home if they become unwell with infection,” he said.
The researchers from the Royal Children’s Hospital, University of Melbourne, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Deakin University, Radburg University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, University of Queensland, Barrington Health and Monash University also contributed to the study.
Bacteria Viruses and Parasites in infancy may increase risks of heart disease later in life.
(source:internet, reference only)