Gut Yeast Linked to Greater Risk of Asthma

By Kurtis Chien-Young

Microbiologists at the University of British Columbia have found a strong association between a yeast in the gut and childhood asthma. The yeast, called Pichia, was found in the gut of Ecuadorian babies and seemed to predict the development of asthma.

University of British Columbia researcher Brett Finlay and his colleagues were studying gut bacteria in Canada and Ecuador, two countries with high prevalence of asthma, represented in approximately ten percent of each country’s populations. The researchers identified four species of bacteria in Canadian children that, when found  present in the gut during the child’s first hundred days alive, granted protection from the development of asthma later on. In the Ecuadorian children, Finlay and his colleagues identified the yeast, Pichia, which put children at greater risk of asthma. The presence of that same yeast in Canadian children had not been determined due to technological limitations at the time the study was conducted in Canada.

Finlay explains that the greater risk of asthma may also be due to the accessibility of clean water and general cleanliness of the environment. Among Ecuadorian children, those who had access to clean, filtered water were reported to have significantly higher rates of asthma. The cleanliness of water, according to Finlay, may have left the children deficient in beneficial microbes.

The research has implications for the role of microscopic organisms in overall human health, as these different microbes can either prevent a disease or encourage its development.


University of British Columbia. (2017, February 17). Yeast found in babies' guts increases risk of asthma. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 26, 2017 from