July 17, 2024

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“Kawasaki Disease” Linked to Imbalance in Gut Bacteria in Children?

“Kawasaki Disease” Linked to Imbalance in Gut Bacteria in Children?

“Kawasaki Disease” Linked to Imbalance in Gut Bacteria in Children? Potential Prevention through Dietary Fiber, Says Kansai Medical University

The research team at Kansai Medical University has announced that the cause of Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory condition with unknown origins prevalent in children, may be linked to an imbalance in the composition and balance of various bacterial groups within the gut.

The study suggests that providing children with dietary fiber could potentially increase the presence of bacteria that suppress inflammation, leading to preventive benefits.

The findings have been published in an international academic journal.

"Kawasaki Disease" Linked to Imbalance in Gut Bacteria in Children?

screenshot from Yahoo Japan


Kawasaki disease, first reported by pediatrician Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967, remains a mysterious illness affecting children, with approximately 1 in 400 children under the age of 4 developing it. The disease triggers inflammation in the body’s blood vessels, resulting in symptoms such as fever, red eyes, and red bumps on the tongue. Despite advancements in treatment, approximately 2.5% of those affected still experience a lingering complication—bulges (coronary artery aneurysms) in the heart’s blood vessels. Long-term medication is sometimes necessary to prevent complications like angina or myocardial infarction.

The bacterial community in the gut, known as the “intestinal microbiota,” is unique to each individual and forms from the fetal stage to around 2 to 3 years old, remaining relatively stable thereafter. Professor Kazunari Kaneko and Assistant Professor Yoshiki Teramoto, along with their research team, examined fecal samples from 26 children who had recovered from Kawasaki disease and were medication-free for about a year after onset. They compared these samples with those of 57 children who had not developed the disease.

The results revealed that the microbiota of children who had developed Kawasaki disease had a higher proportion of bacteria causing inflammation and a lower proportion of bacteria, such as butyric acid bacteria, known to suppress inflammation. The team suggests that providing children with dietary fiber, acting as food for butyric acid bacteria, could potentially prevent Kawasaki disease.

Dr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, Director of the Wakayama Tsukushi Medical and Welfare Center, specializing in Kawasaki disease, commented, “Investigating the pre-onset gut microbiota is challenging, but this study highlights the potential importance of specific bacterial functions in treatment and prevention. Future challenges include examining regional variations and other factors.”


What is “Kawasaki Disease” ?

Kawasaki Disease, also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, is a rare but potentially serious illness that primarily affects children under the age of 5.

The disease was first identified by Japanese pediatrician Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967.

Key features of Kawasaki Disease include:

  1. Fever: Persistent high fever, often lasting for at least five days, is a hallmark symptom of Kawasaki Disease.

  2. Skin Rash: Children with this disease often develop a rash, particularly on the trunk of the body, which may involve the genital area, palms, and soles.

  3. Conjunctivitis: Redness and inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis) are common in Kawasaki Disease.

  4. Changes in the Mouth and Lips: The disease can cause changes in the mucous membranes of the mouth and lips, including a “strawberry” tongue (red and bumpy).

  5. Swollen Lymph Nodes: Enlarged lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, are another characteristic feature.

  6. Swelling in the Hands and Feet: The extremities may show redness and swelling, and the skin on the hands and feet may peel.

  7. Irritability: Children with Kawasaki Disease may be irritable, and some may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting.

The exact cause of Kawasaki Disease is unknown, and it is not believed to be directly contagious. It is considered an autoimmune response, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues.

If diagnosed and treated promptly, especially within the first 10 days of illness, the majority of children recover fully with no lasting complications.

However, without treatment, Kawasaki Disease can lead to more serious complications, such as coronary artery aneurysms (bulges in the blood vessels of the heart).

The standard treatment involves intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and aspirin to reduce inflammation and prevent complications. Regular follow-up with a healthcare provider is typically recommended to monitor heart health and overall recovery.

“Kawasaki Disease” Linked to Imbalance in Gut Bacteria in Children?

(source:internet, reference only)

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