Gut bugs may be behind severe malnutrition in kids: study
Scientists have long puzzled over why some children are afflicted by malnutrition but not others, even those in the same household who eat the same foods.
The study of young twins in Malawi, in sub-Saharan Africa, led by Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found that dysfunctional communities of gut microbes conspire with a poor diet to trigger malnutrition.
The discovery is bolstered by additional studies in mice, showing that gut microbes transplanted from malnourished children cause dramatic weight loss and alter metabolism when the animals are fed a nutrient-poor diet.
"The gut microbes of malnourished children and malnourished mice do not appear to mature along a normal, healthy trajectory," said senior study author Jeffrey Gordon, director of the Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology.
"Feeding the children and the mice a high-calorie, nutrient-rich food had a temporary, beneficial effect on their gut microbes, but not enough to repair the dysfunction. Our results suggest we need to devise new strategies to repair gut microbial communities so these children can experience healthy growth and reach their full potential," Gordon said.
The new study followed 317 sets of twins in Malawi for the first three years of their lives. During this time, half of the twin pairs remained healthy, and in the others, either one or both twins developed malnutrition.
While the standard treatment to reduce deaths from
Be the first to comment.