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Piglet study shows prebiotics and probiotics work differently in baby girls and boys
"The consequence of this study is that we need to rethink how we design, and analyse the data from, nutritional trials in youngsters." - Dr Marie Lewis.

Findings could improve treatment of immune disorders

Teams from the Universities of Bristol and Reading have discovered that baby boy’s and girl’s immune systems respond differently to prebiotics and probiotics, contradicting previous evidence that the differences in immunity begin during puberty.

The research, which was conducted using 28-day-old piglets, revealed that, depending on their sex, they produced vastly varying levels of immune cells, antibodies and other immune-associated molecules.

It was also found that the prebiotic inulin significantly increases the number of regulatory T-cells – the cells responsible for controlling immune responses – in male guts, but this was not the case in female guts.

Principal investigator Dr Marie Lewis, lecturer in gut immunology and microbiology at the University of Reading said: “Currently, studies looking at the effectiveness of dietary supplements on the immune system assume that the same thing happens in boys and girls. But we show this is not the case and that sex may be influencing data on the effectiveness of probiotics and prebiotics in infanthood."

Dr Lewis also speculated that these findings may lead to differences in designing treatments for immune disorders for infant girls and boys.

“In the future, we could find that specific probiotics or prebiotics are more beneficial for girls, whilst others could generate better health outcomes for boys.

“Given the underlying differences in immune development we identified between boys and girls, taking sex into account could provide a simple means to improve the effectiveness of pharmaceutics and other therapies which act on the immune system."

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COVID-19 resources for veterinary professionals

News Story 1
 RCVS Knowledge, the charity partner of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), has published a page of COVID-19 coronavirus resources for veterinary professionals across the industry.

The resource, which can be found here, includes veterinary advice, updates, research and evidence regarding the virus. The advice encompasses information to help veterinary professionals respond to questions from their clients and the BCVA's latest guidance for farm animal vets.

Veterinary professionals are urged to share the resource on social media and let RCVS Knowledge know of any additions. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
BVA senior vice president appointed chair of FVE working group

Senior vice president of the BVA Dr Simon Doherty has been appointed as chair of the Food Safety & Sustainability working group of the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE).

Dr Doherty has 20 years' experience in farm animal and equine veterinary practice, industry and academia. He has been working as a senior lecturer at the Queen's University Belfast Institute for Global Food Security since 2018 and is a trustee of Send a Cow and the Animal Welfare Foundation.

The Food Safety & Sustainability working group will support FVE in all matters related to food safety, food security and sustainable livestock systems. It will also assist FVE in taking the most effective policies at EU level.