Baby's Early Diet Plays a Major Role in Gut Microbiota

First Posted: Feb 12, 2016 09:53 AM EST

The early diet of infants may have a major impact on the gut microbiota of children. Scientists have found that the development of a child's microbiota is driven by the transition to family foods.

The gut microbiota is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Children are essentially born without microbes in their gut, and are immediately colonized upon birth.  The next several years are critical in establishing a person's endogenous gut microbiota.

Gut microbiota is strongly affected by diet and has been linked with obesity. That's why researchers decided to see what exactly impacts children's gut microbiota.

The scientists compared the gut microbiotas of two cohorts of infants. One group was born from healthy mothers and the other was born from obese mothers. The scientists then analyzed stool samples from the children at nine months and 18 months. By nine months, most of the children had transitioned to a complementary diet.

"Our results reveal that the transition from early infant feeding to family foods is a major determinant for gut microbiota development," said Tine Rask Licht, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Maternal obesity did not influence microbial diversity or specific taxon abundances during the complementary feeding period."

In fact, the researchers found that the major determinants of microbiota development were breastfeeding and composition of the complementary diet. In fact, it's the introduction of family foods that has the most influence.

The findings reveal that being careful in what food you introduce to your child is crucial when it comes to keeping your child healthy long into the future.

The findings are published in the journal mSphere.

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