Early Childhood Obesity May Be Predicted By Baby’s Gut Bacteria

The abundance of certain gut bacteria in babies appears to be linked to a higher body mass index and childhood obesity.

Early childhood obesity may be predicted by a baby’s gut bacteria, according to a new study. As such, researchers believe there may be a way to modify certain aspects of the gut bacteria to “prevent cardiovascular risk factors” in the future.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore believe they have found a connection between a baby’s gut health and future chances of becoming obese as the infant ages.

The study, which was presented on Friday at the American Heart Association’s virtual Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference, examined the gut bacteria and microbes of babies in conjunction with their body mass index, according to Medical Xpress.

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Because obesity is a leading factor in cardiovascular disease, researchers wanted to zero in on “modifiable early life factors” that may change the outcome of becoming obese in the future. As such, according to the American Heart Association, the gut bacteria and microbes were zeroed in on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity is on the rise, growing steadily every year.

The latest statistics, according to the organization, show that among two to five-year-olds, 13.4 percent of the children are considered to be obese. Those who identify as Hispanic, Black, and white have the highest rates of being overweight as they age, while those who identify as Asian have the lowest rates.

Based upon past studies that involved both rodents and older people, researchers were able to determine that “low-level inflammation” in the gut that was caused by a “disruption” of the bacteria and microbes led to weight gain and potentially obesity, according to Medical Xpress.

To see if there was any sort of disruption happening in the gut of babies, researchers collected stool samples of over 200 babies aged six weeks and one year old. According to the American Heart Association, the body mass index was then taken of the children when they turned five years of age.

Researchers were specifically looking to see if any stand-out bacteria presented in those who proved to be considered obese when entering their school-age years. And what they found, was that the babies who had high levels of the bacteria Klebsiella and Citrobacter, according to Chron, were more likely to have a high body mass index as they aged.

Further still, when the bacteria Prevotella were prevalent in the stool of one-year-olds, a higher body mass index was found in children as they aged as well.

Bacteria and microbes are influenced by “diet, disease, medications, and genetics,” according to Hailey Crean Nutrition, LLC.

Because lifestyle can determine which kind and how many bacteria and microbes are found in the gut, it may be possible to reduce the number of the ones that are linked to obesity as the baby ages.

The earlier that the bacteria and microbes are balanced in the gut, researchers believe the better the chances there are of reducing the number of children who suffer from obesity in the future.

NEXT: Babies At Higher Risk For Obesity If Mom Has Diabetes, Study Says

Source: Medical Xpress, American Heart Association, Chron, Centers for Disease Control, Hailey Crean Nutrition, LLC

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