The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded a USD $2.5 million grant (equivalent to approximately HKD 19.5 million) to the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CU Medicine) to study gut microbiota of pregnant mothers and babies to determine how early life environmental and dietary factors contribute to the development of Crohn’s disease, as well as to develop a research targeting on pregnant women and their babies’ gut microbiota, including the gut microbe transferred to babies from mothers during pregnancy, and the effects of gut microbiota to infants’ immune systems development. The research primarily will track the pregnant women from just deliver their babies, to the stage when the babies are 1.5-year-old. Also, the researchers will distribute the gut microbiota report at that time to the participants.



Prof. Francis KL CHAN, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research, explained that the infant stage is the golden period of changing the composition of gut microbiota for prevention of diseases. After this golden period, changing gut microbiota is difficult. The gut microbiota can affect the risks of having autism and obesity in the future. If we change the gut microbiota during infant stage, it can reduce the risks of having certain kinds of diseases.