DETROIT — Henry Ford Hospital researchers say that breastfeeding and other factors influence a baby’s immune system development and susceptibility to allergies and asthma by what’s in their gut.

The striking findings from a series of studies further advance the so-called hygiene hypothesis theory that early childhood exposure to microorganisms affects the immune system’s development and onset of allergies, says Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MPH, chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences and principal research investigator.

The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms in the gastrointestional, or GI, tract, and the human body has billions of these microbes.

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