ITN’s ACTIVATE (Vaginal Microbiome Exposure and Immune Responses in C-section Infants) has opened for recruitment. The goal of this pilot study is to investigate how differences in the microbiome of a baby may protect, or put them at risk, for allergies. To do this, the study will measure whether wiping babies born by C-section with their mother’s vaginal fluids (which contains potentially beneficial bacteria) right after birth will lower the risk of allergy development.
The microbiome refers to the thousands of microorganisms including bacteria that live in and on our bodies. The microbiome plays an important role in our health, and differences in the microbiome can affect our immune system in ways that might make some people more likely to get allergies and asthma.
There is information that suggests C-section birth is associated with higher risk of certain diseases including allergies and asthma. Some researchers think one reason for this is that passing through the mother’s vaginal canal during birth exposes the baby to bacteria that promote healthy immune system development, something that C-section babies don’t get.
All babies in the ACTIVATE study will be followed for the first year of life. Babies will be tested with six common allergens (egg, milk, peanut, house dust mite, cat, and cockroach) when they are one year of age.
ACTIVATE is currently recruiting women in their third trimester of pregnancy who are between 18 and 45 years of age. The study is being conducted in New York City and will enroll 120 pregnant women and their babies who are at higher-risk for developing allergies. This will include 80 women who are planning a C-section delivery and 40 women who are planning a vaginal delivery.