The infant gut microbiome, and its relationship with communication, personal, social and fine motor skills in toddlers

The critical period for brain development is in the first three years of a child’s life, a time when the postnatal gut microbiome is its most dynamic. A recent study by Sordillo, Korrick, and Laranjo et al., out of America, has shown that the makeup of our children’s microbiota in the early stages of their life - that is, prior to three years of age - has been associated with the development of their communication, social, personal and fine motor skills.

This is incredibly important in terms of chronic and non-communicable diseases in children, as other research has identified the potential link between the gut microbiome and autism. As this area of research is still emerging, adequate data in human populations is missing. Therefore, the above research team decided to explore associations between the infant gut microbiome and early childhood neuro-development, as reported by the children’s parents, using a validated child development questionnaire paired with stool samples. What they noted in their research, was that poor performance of children in the development questionnaire at 16 to 30 months of age has been shown to be sensitive (but not specific) for diagnosis of ASDs. The authors made it very clear however, that in the cohort they studied, no formal ASD diagnoses were made, but that their results may potentially have the ability to detect associations between the infant gut microbiome and later social and communication skills.

Additionally, they noted that follow-up studies in other populations are needed, and that the inclusion of more comprehensive neurocognitive assessment tools are required. Only then, will researchers be able to definitively state if there is an association between the infant gut microbiome and developmental outcomes in children.

To read more, head to doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0905

Sordillo JE, Korrick S, Laranjo N, et al. Association of the Infant Gut Microbiome With Early Childhood Neurodevelopmental Outcomes: An Ancillary Study to the VDAART Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190905. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0905