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Researchers Ring the Alarm on Infant Gut Deficiency & How it Affects Development

By the time an individual reaches adulthood, their body hosts between 500 and 1,000 different species of gut bacteria.

by James Guttman | Babygaga | February 1, 2021


Almost daily, new research regarding the role of the gut microbiome seems to shed new light into the important role it plays in both development and behavior. Today is no exception and a new study published in Scientific Reports, suggests that infants in the US may have diminished function of their gut microbiome.

The report states that 90% of US infants may have a substantial deficiency of a key bacterium for breast milk digestion and development of the immune system. Researchers from Stanford University, the University of Nebraska, and Evolve BioSystems studied fecal samples from 227 infants under six months old from pediatrician visits in California, Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. The samples were then tested for milk digestion. Of the data collected, the teams did not include samples from infants with jaundice, those who were actively undergoing antibiotic treatment, or those who had already been diagnosed with problems in carbohydrate digestion in their intestine.

The researchers observed that nine out of ten infants are missing Bidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis) within their gut microbiome. This is a type of bacteria that plays a principle role in both health and development for infants. This gut bacteria has been widely documented as providing the most positive impact to infant gut health as well as possessing an ability to fully unlock breast milk's nutritional benefits including oligosaccharide fractions which are not digestible by other means.

"The vast majority of infants are deficient in this key gut bacterium from the earliest weeks of life, and this is completely o the radar for most parents and pediatricians alike," study co-author Karl Sylvester, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics and associate dean of Maternal Child Health Research, Stanford University, wrote.

Another recent study published in Pediatric Research, saw researchers demonstrate how colonizing infants with the specific strain of probiotic bacteria,

EVC001, reduced intestinal inflammation up to 55-times compared to infants receiving breastmilk only. It showed that by introducing the proper measures from an outside source, those who are born deficient in that digestive ability can be aided through medical intervention.

Research like this is important because by the time an individual reaches adulthood, their body hosts between 500 and 1,000 different species of gut bacteria, most of which are beneficial. These bacteria fight off infection-causing microbes, digest food, and metabolize the nutrients within. From there, they interact with the central nervous system in influencing mood and cognitive health. The foundation for this collection of bacteria is established by three years of age 3, so the development of the gut flora in infancy is key for the rest of a person's life.

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