Ethnicity and breastfeeding influence infant gut bacteria

June 1, 2017, McMaster University
Jennifer Stearns is an assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a scientist of the University's Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute. Credit: McMaster University

The bacteria in a child's gut appears to be influenced as early as its first year by ethnicity and breastfeeding, according to a new study from McMaster University.

And while stable gut bacteria, called microbiota, may not be established until one to three years after birth, the infant gut bacteria seems to be an important indicator of immune function, nutrient metabolism and could offer protection from pathogens.

The study was recently published in Genome Medicine.

"Our study looks at the microbial population in the gastrointestinal tract of infants at a formative stage of life when metabolic set points are being established," said Jennifer Stearns, the study's first author, assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a scientist of the University's Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

"We know that microbial communities are influenced by genetics, food and lifestyle, which are factors that we considered here. We also know that all three of these are strongly influenced by one's ethnicity."

The study analyzed the stool samples from 173 white Caucasian and 182 South Asian one-year-olds recruited from two birth cohort studies (CHILD and START), which are co-ordinated at McMaster University. For this study, South Asian ethnicity was defined as infants whose parents' and grandparents' ancestral origin was from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.

Analysis of the samples revealed ethnicity and infant feeding practices independently affect the gut microbiota at one year of age. Furthermore, there was a higher abundance of in South Asians and a higher abundance of Clostridia and related genera in white Caucasians. Whether these differences are associated with future health issues can only be determined after prospective follow-up.

Understanding this relationship may play a key role in preventative care in the future. The is emerging as a potentially important contributor to the development of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, allergies, and colon cancer.

"This study sets the stage for in-depth study of the South Asian gut microbiome as people transition to a western lifestyle here in Canada, a process that likely contributes to this population's higher risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases," said Stearns.

Explore further: Among South Asians, risks of developing diabetes begins at birth, says research

More information: Jennifer C. Stearns et al. Ethnic and diet-related differences in the healthy infant microbiome, Genome Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s13073-017-0421-5

Related Stories

Among South Asians, risks of developing diabetes begins at birth, says research

September 29, 2015
New research suggests that the risks of developing type 2 diabetes for South Asians - a group long known to suffer from substantially higher rates of both diabetes and heart disease—begins immediately at birth.

Breast-feeding's role in 'seeding' infant microbiome

May 8, 2017
Mothers protect their babies and teach them habits to stay healthy and safe as they grow. A new UCLA-led study shows that beneficial bacteria from mothers do much the same thing.

Higher risk of heart disease for South Asians in Canada

September 22, 2014
South Asians living in Canada have a higher rate of heart disease and double the rate of diabetes compared with while people, McMaster researchers have found.

Maternal microbial inheritance—benefits of breastfeeding

August 4, 2016
The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2016 is Breastfeeding: A key to sustainable development. The core message of this year's World Breastfeeding Week is to "learn to value our wellbeing from the beginning of life, and to ...

Early diet of infants, not maternal obesity, influences development of gut microbiome

February 11, 2016
After the age of nine months, the development of the infant gut microbiota is driven by the transition to family foods, not maternal obesity, according to results from a new study. The study was published online this week ...

Risk of T2DM at different BMIs varies with ethnicity

March 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—The risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) associated with body mass index (BMI) varies between ethnic groups, according to a study published online Feb. 17 in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

Recommended for you

Mammary stem cells challenge costly bovine disease

April 24, 2018
Mastitis is the most expensive disease in the dairy industry. Each clinical case can cost a dairy farmer more than $400 and damages both the cow's future output as well as her comfort.

Research explains link between exercise and appetite loss

April 24, 2018
Ever wonder why intense exercise temporarily curbs your appetite? In research described in today's issue of PLOS Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers reveal that the answer is all in your head—more specifically, ...

Fruit fly study identifies new gene linked to aortic aneurysms

April 24, 2018
An interdisciplinary team of researchers has identified a new gene linked to human aortic aneurysms. By combining comprehensive genetic studies in the fruit fly, dataset searches and analysis of diseased human aortic tissue, ...

Scientists manipulate 'satellite cells' to speed healing

April 24, 2018
Muscle aches and pains, whether from stretching, strenuous exercise or just normal wear and tear, can put a crimp in your day, a limp in your step and be an actual pain in the neck. But no matter the severity, stem cells ...

Advanced sensor to unlock the secrets of the brain

April 24, 2018
Researchers have announced the development of a state-of-the-art sensor that can for the first time detect signalling molecules, called cytokines, which operate in the living brain. Cytokines in the brain are secreted by ...

New cell therapy aids heart recovery—without implanting cells

April 23, 2018
Heart disease is a major global health problem—myocardial infarction annually affects more than one million people in the U.S. alone, and there is still no effective treatment. The adult human heart cannot regenerate itself ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.