Children with pronounced growth impairment due to micronutrient deficiency also have an immature, not age-appropriate developed intestinal microflora. Due to this, a real vicious circle arises.
If malnutrition accrues within the first few months after birth, the normal development of the bacterial community in the child’s intestines is permanently inhibited. Consequently, nutritional components cannot be effectively utilized. Also, the link between the growth hormone, which coordinates the overall development, and growth factor IGF 1, which sends corresponding signals in the body, remains disturbed.
These growth impediments could be solved in the future by actively strengthening the bacterial community in the gut of mother and child.
Scientists currently found specific approaches to stimulate the children’s intestinal flora through mice tests. Namely, on the one hand through the deliberate settlement of selected bacterial species (Ruminococcus gnavus and Clostridium symbiosum) and on the other hand by the increased intake of sialic acid, a central component of building blocks in the glandular secretions, cell membrane and in the blood plasma.
Breastfeeding is a natural way to provide an adequate supply of sialic acid for newborns, if the mother is in good health herself.
Since the intestinal microflora of the mother already prepares for the future cultivation of microbes in the gut of the child during pregnancy, the healthcare of mothers becomes even more a factor for the healthy development of the child.
L.V. Blanton et al. Gut bacteria that prevent growth impairments transmitted by microbiota from malnourished children. Science. 2016 Feb 19;351(6275). pii: aad3311. Doi:10.1126/science.aad3311.
Schwarzer et al. Lactobacillus plantarum strain maintains growth of infant mice during chronic undernutrition. Science. 2016 Feb 19;351(6275):854-7. Doi: 10.1126/science.aad8588
M.G. de Agüero et al. The maternal microbiota drives early postnatal innate immune development: Science 2016, DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2571