Child Undernutrition Can Be Reduced by Focusing on the Microbiota


eMediNexus    15 February 2023

According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, nutritional treatments used to combat child undernutrition in lower and middle-income nations should focus on gut microbiota development to boost child growth and development.


The phrase "gut microbiome" refers to the billions of distinct microorganisms that inhabit the human gut and are crucial for early-life developmental processes like immune system development, hormone generation, and nutrition metabolism. Since childhood illnesses and mortality are substantially greater in low- and middle-income nations, where undernutrition affects more than 1 in 5 children, most research on the gut microbiome′s impact on child development has come from high-income settings.


In the study, 335 children from rural Zimbabwe, between the ages of 1 and 18 months, had their gut microbiomes examined by researchers using metagenome sequencing technology. The children received two interventions as part of the Sanitation Hygiene Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) randomized control trial.


The findings of the study showed that improvements in nutrition and household sanitation for children in rural Zimbabwe had little impact on a child′s gut microbiome and, consequently, growth and development. Furthermore, the researchers found that the genetic function of the gut microbe in early life can be used to predict how well a child is growing or will grow in the coming months.


The first author of the study, Dr. Ruairi Robertson of the Queen Mary University of London, stated that the study offered a large resource of gut microbiome data from children in a rural, non-Western setting. Additionally, the findings of the study offered crucial information for public health in low- and middle-income nations where infant infections, diarrheal illness, infant mortality, and undernutrition are significantly more prevalent. 


(Source: https://theprint.in/health/targeting-microbiome-can-improve-child-undernutrition-research-2/1372086/ )

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