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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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Nominations open for National Cat Awards 2020

News Story 1
 UK charity Cats Protection has announced that cat owners can nominate their pets for the National Cat Awards 2020 starting today.

The awards take place annually, celebrating heart warming stories of the positive impact that cats have on their owners. Cat owners have until Thursday 12 March to submit their nominations through the Cats Protection website. 

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Restriction zone lifted at Suffolk chicken farm

A one-kilometre restriction zone around a commercial chicken farm in mid-Suffolk has been lifted, following the completion of surveillance testing for avian influenza H5N3 with negative results.

Some 27,000 birds on the premises were culled after a veterinary surgeon identified the disease while investigating a fall in egg production. Poultry keepers are urged to take action to reduce the risk of disease in their flock by following government advice on biosecurity.