How is development affected by the microbiome?

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Child Development & the Microbiome

There are a lot of changes in a child’s body and brain as they grow. The younger they are, the bigger and more rapid the changes and the more vulnerable they are. These changes are intimately connected to their microbe companions right from the moment of birth.

The first 100 days (or 3 months) of life are the most important. In these early days our microbiome affects how our gut, brain and immune systems develop and provides cues for the physical development of our whole body.

By the end of the first 1000 days of life (or 3 years) our microbiome has developed almost entirely. Our microbes help us break down food and harness energy and nutrients. They keep our immune system functioning and help protect against pathogens that we come into contact with constantly.

As research continues to develop, it seems that if our initial microbiome growth is disrupted or impaired this can lead to future health problems. For instance, some scientists believe that if gut microbiome development is altered, undigested dietary proteins can leak into the bloodstream and trigger an allergy (to gluten, for example), or change the immune system in a way that makes it more susceptible to an autoimmune disorder like Type 1 diabetes, juvenile arthritis or multiple sclerosis.


Photo credit: @gift_habeshaw on Unsplash

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