UBC Study Explores Link Between Early Microbiome and Infant Brain Development Interview with:
Sebastian Hunter
– M.Sc. student with Dr. Brett Finlay and Dr. Sara Mostafavi
University of British Columbia What is the background for this study?

Response: This study started as an exploratory project to evaluate the effects of the early microbiota on infant brain development and emerging cognitive capacities. This arises from the increase research around the gut-brain-microbiome axis and its pursuit to uncover how the microbiome helps in the development of a healthy brain, as the microbiota colonization occurs before most neural systems are fully matured and have been linked to later brain health.. What are the main findings?

Response:  Overall, our small pilot study identified potential associations between the microbiome and measurements of early cognitive development, such as differences in the bacterial composition of infants that succeeded in the test of social attention “Point and Gaze’ and associations between measurements of neural rhythm tracking and different bacteria and metabolic pathways What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The main takeaway from the research is the continuous work that is being done to fully understand the impact of the microbiome in all aspects of human health and development in an interdisciplinary fashion. The associations found are of potential interest, but further research in bigger trials is needed to understand and establish the link between the microbiota and brain development. Future studies could highlight what microbes or metabolic compounds can be supplemented or targeted to promote healthier development of the neural systems. Nevertheless, caution should be taken in over-interpreting the results, as the relatively small sample size of the pilot limits the interpretation of the results due to the low statistical power. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: Future research would definitely need bigger trials to be able to effectively estimate the effect sizes of the statistical calculations, as to identify consistent results between cohorts. We also would like to highlight the importance of multidisciplinary scientific research as a key to answer more complex questions in all scientific fields.


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Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by Marie Benz