By LAURA SANT
New research suggests young school-aged children with behavior problems may have different gut bacteria (microbiome) than well-behaved children. Parents may play a role in what type of gut bacteria develop in their children beyond the food they give their children.
The research included 40 children between 5 and 7 years of age. Stool samples were analyzed to identify the types of bacteria in their guts. The results found an association with the specific types of gut bacteria and economic and social difficulties. Another discovery of the research was that a positive parent child relationship may lessen the negative effect of other difficulties on the gut microbiome.
While this study does not prove cause and effect (between a child’s gut microbiome and their behavior), the behavior may be causing gut microbiome changes. In this particular study, the food that was eaten by the children didn’t seem to be responsible for the changes in the microbiome.
If future large studies confirm these findings, it might be possible to use gut microbiome information to predict how a child’s behavior might develop. Having that information might lead to earlier (possibly more successful) interventions.
While this study reinforces the idea that there is a brain-gut connection, it doesn’t give any conclusive answers. It does, however, give further areas to research. Currently there is not a lot of research examining the effects of the gut microbiome. It will likely be a while before we know the importance of the gut microbiome (especially in children).