MedicalResearch.com Interview with
Tine Rask Licht, Professor
Head of Research Group on Gut Microbiology and Immunology
Technical University of Denmark
National Food Institute Søborg
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: During childhood, the intestinal microbiota is under establishment. This period thus represents a ’window’, where the microbiota is likely to be more susceptible to be affected by external factors such as diet. Currently, it is well known that breast feeding has a major impact on the microbiota of young infants, but only very few studies have addressed the effect of the ‘next step’ in diet exposure, represented by complementary feeding.
We studied two cohorts of children, born to normal-weight and obese mothers, respectively, and mapped the composition of bacteria in their fecal microbiota at age 9 months and 18 months. We found that at 9 months, the microbiota was clearly affected by the composition of the complementary diet, but not by maternal obesity.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: It is too early to draw any conclusions from this study that could lead to altered clinical practices.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Childhood remains an important period for microbiota establishment. It is important to continue to increase our understanding of effects of complementary feeding practices that may affect the risk for development of microbiota-related diseases later in life.
Medical Research: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Note that the fact that we do measure any effect of maternal obesity at age 9 months, does not exclude that such an effect have been present earlier after birth. The microbiota of this early stage may play role for ‘programming’ of the body, even if it is no longer detectable at 9 months. We thus cannot exclude a role of maternal obesity based on the current findings.
Laursen, M.F. et al. Infant Gut Microbiota Development Is Driven by Transition to Family Foods Independent of Maternal Obesity. mSphere, February 2016 DOI:10.1128/mSphere.00069-15
Tine Rask Licht, Professor (2016). Babies’ Intestinal Microbiome Affected By Family Diet