Gut Bacteria Linked to Toddler Temperament

Researchers Find Correlation to Behavior




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Ohio State University researchers have discovered a correlation between bacteria in the gut and behavior in toddlers. Scientists studied the bacterial microbes in stool samples from 77 girls and boys between the ages of 18 months and 27 months, while mothers filled out a questionnaire describing their children’s level of emotional reactivity.

The study found that positive behavioral traits occurred more frequently in children with the most diverse types of gut bacteria. These included mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity. The correlation was particularly strong in boys.

Lisa Christian, Ph.D., a researcher with the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine research, and her co-author, Microbiologist Michael Bailey, Ph.D., plan to use the information to help uncover some mysteries related to the origin of chronic illness. “There is substantial evidence that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones; the same hormones that have been implicated in chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma,” explains Christian. “A toddler’s temperament gives us a good idea of how they react to stress. This information, combined with an analysis of their gut microbiome, could ultimately help us to detect and prevent chronic health issues [from developing] earlier.”


Source: Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science


This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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