The burden of asthma in children is unacceptably high. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting more than 10% of Australian children. Inhaled steroids are the most effective therapy for controlling asthma day to day, however, they do not prevent many acute attacks of asthma and many patients and carers are concerned about unwanted side effects, which reduces adherence to prescribed medications. Therefore, alternative strategies for managing asthma in children are urgently needed.

Westernised diets, which rely heavily on processed foods, are often low in fibre. A low fibre intake has many negative effects, including the development of an unhealthy gut bacteria profile, which can impair the immune system. Recent data from models and pilot data from adults with asthma suggests that a low fibre diet worsens asthma and airway inflammation, via several key mechanistic pathways. Here we will examine these key immune pathways in children with asthma, to identify any abnormalities which may be corrected with appropriate interventions.

We will recruit children with healthy lungs and compare them to children with asthma. We will collect blood and faeces, so that we can examine differences in the gut bacteria and then relate these differences to changes in the blood and airways. This will allow us to determine whether a soluble fibre intervention might be a useful strategy for improving childhood asthma management. This would be an exciting new development, providing a simple, inexpensive alternative, which is likely to be well accepted and adopted by both children and their carers.

Researchers 
Project type 
Project Grant
Year of funding 
2017