A group of researchers from the University of Copenhagen and COPSAC have studied the diaper contents of 647 Danish one-year-olds for five years and exposed some unbelievable results. The findings, as revealed by the group, shows that babies have more than 200 families of previously unknown viral families present in their intestines. Although the discovery might be surprising, the team described these viruses as significant and probably essential for protecting children from chronic diseases.

This new mapping of gut viruses is undoubtedly revolutionary, as it has given us a whole new basis for understanding the importance of viruses in our immune system and microbiome development. While it is common knowledge that gut bacteria in young children are vital to protect them from chronic diseases, we know very little about the many viruses present in their bodies.

The researchers found 10,000 viral species in the children’s faeces, a number ten times higher than the number of bacterial species found. And 90% of the viruses found were bacterial viruses known as bacteriophages, which have bacteria as their hosts; they are said to serve as allies by shaping the bacterial communities and keeping the gut microbiome balanced.

Shiraz Shah, the first author and a senior researcher at COPSAC, stated that previously, the research community mostly focused on the role of bacteria in relation to health and disease. However, viruses are an essential part of the microbiome and will play an essential role in protecting against chronic illnesses.

The researchers named the remaining 232 unknown viral families after the children whose diapers made the study possible. New viral families include names such as Sylvesterviridae, Rigmorviridae and Tristanviridae. However, it is still unclear where most of these viruses come from, but the environment seems to be the best answer.

In conclusion, this new discovery is an eye-opener to the significance of viruses in babies and children’s microbiome development. The team has begun investigating the role of gut viruses in relation to a number of different diseases that occur in childhood, such as asthma and ADHD. Findings from this study may lead to further research and hopefully lead to the avoidance of the chronic diseases plaguing a lot of people today.

Source of study: University of Copenhagen