The importance of microbial diversity
It is thought that:
- Our microbial exposure needs are not confined to a single OF species.
- Exposure to a diverse range of species is a requirement.
- This may mean that our exposure needs can be met by one or more of a diverse range of microbes which make up the human and environmental microbiome.
- If any species is missing, their role may be met by others.
What is the route of microbial exposure?
Based on current evidence, the oral and respiratory routes seems the most likely candidate, which fits with the OF mechanism.
However, findings do not rule out other routes including inhalation, which is very effective in animal models, or even transdermal exposure.
Possibly all of these routes are involved.
Does exposure need to be maintained during adult life?
Evidence suggests that the most important time of exposure is during pregnancy, and during the first hours, days or months of life.
Evidence suggests that exposure needs to be maintained for a significant period e.g. Breastfeeding for 6 months.
There is some evidence that on-going exposure may be important.
More research is needed. Most of our understanding comes from studies with infants.