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Gut microbiome influenced by early diet of infants

Posted:  Friday, January 01, 2016

Study unravels link between gut microbiome and early diet of infants! The gut microbiome is a complex community of microbes that inhabit the intestine. Research on the gut microbiome continues to shed light on its development and impact on human health. A new study has indicated that after the age of nine months, the development of the infant gut microbiome is influenced by complementary feeding rather than maternal obesity.

The study, recently published online in the journal mSphere, primarily sought to understand the influence of maternal obesity on the infant gut microbiome. Researchers compared the gut microbiomes of two cohorts of infants for the study. One cohort belonged to a random sample of healthy mothers (n=114), while the other cohort belonged to obese mothers (n =113). Stool samples from the infants were examined at two time points, 9 months and 18 months.

The researchers then undertook a comparison of microbiota data, breastfeeding patterns and individual dietary recordings. They found that breastfeeding duration and the complementary diet were the major determinants of gut microbiota. The complementary foods rich in protein and fibre strongly influenced gut microbial composition in both cohorts. Contrastingly, maternal obesity did not have any influence on the composition of the microbiome.

Usually, neonates are born with a microbe-free gut, which becomes colonized almost immediately in the postnatal period. The gut microbiota undergoes changes attributable to factors such as diet over the subsequent lifetime. Consequently, every adult has a very distinctive gut microbiome.

Proclaiming the importance of the study, the researchers said, "We found that introduction of family foods is the main driver of development of the complex microbial ecosystem in the gut at age 9 months. The food determines the diversity and the composition of the microbiota, and this is very important. It is well known that breastfeeding has a great impact on gut microbiota, but nobody has addressed the effect of diet at this age before."

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