Aim: To investigate whether functional changes of the gut flora over time were related to sensitization and allergic symptoms at four years of age.
Methods: The levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in faecal samples at one (n = 139) and four (n = 53) years of age were related to the development of positive skin prick tests (SPT) and allergic symptoms during the first four years of life.
Results: Faecal acetic (p < 0.01) and propionic (p < 0.01) acids decreased from one to four years of age, while valeric acid (p < 0.001) increased. Low levels of i-butyric (p = 0.01), i-valeric (p = 0.03) and valeric acids (p = 0.02) at one year were associated with questionnaire-reported symptoms of food allergy at four years. Positive SPTs and allergic symptoms at four years were associated with low faecal levels of i-butyric, i-valeric and valeric acids. At one year of age, infants with, as compared to without older siblings had higher median levels of valeric acid.
Conclusion: A slow functional maturation of the gut microflora, as measured by faecal levels of SCFAs is associated with allergy both at one and four years. The findings lend further support to an association between allergy and the development of microbial diversity.