Nav: Home

Gut microbes associated with temperament traits in children

June 18, 2019

Scientists in the FinnBrain research project of the University of Turku, Finland, discovered that the gut microbes of a 2.5-month-old infant are associated with the temperament traits manifested at six months of age. Temperament describes individual differences in expressing and regulating emotions in infants, and the study provides new information on the association between behaviour and microbes. A corresponding study has never been conducted on infants so young or in the same scale.

Rodent studies have revealed that the composition of gut microbiota and its remodelling is connected to behaviour. In humans, gut microbes can be associated with different diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, depression and autism spectrum disorders, but little research has been conducted on infants.

Doctoral Candidate, Doctor Anna Aatsinki from the FinnBrain research project at the University of Turku, Finland, discovered in her study on 303 infants that different temperament traits are connected with individual microbe genera, microbial diversity and different microbe clusters.

"It was interesting that, for example, the Bifidobacterium genus including several lactic acid bacteria was associated with higher positive emotions in infants. Positive emotionality is the tendency to experience and express happiness and delight, and it can also be a sign of an extrovert personality later in life," says Aatsinki.

Temperament Can Predict Later Development

One of the findings was that greater diversity in gut bacteria is connected to lesser negative emotionality and fear reactivity. The study also considered other factors that significantly affect the diversity of the microbiota, such as the delivery method and breastfeeding.

The findings are interesting as strong fear reaction and negative emotionality can be connected to depression risk later in life. However, the association with later diseases is not straightforward and they are also dependent on the environment.

"Although we discovered connections between diversity and temperament traits, it is not certain whether early microbial diversity affects disease risk later in life. It is also unclear what are the exact mechanisms behind the association," adds Aatsinki.

"This is why we need follow-up studies as well as a closer examination of metabolites produced by the microbes."
-end-
The newly published study is first of its kind and gives evidence of an association between normal variation in behaviour and gut microbiota. This might indicate that there is activity on the gut-brain axis already in infancy. The gut-brain axis is a functional relationship between gut flora and central nervous system via the nervous, immune and endocrine systems.

The FinnBrain research project of the University of Turku studies the combined influence of environmental and genetic factors on the development of children. Over 4,000 families participate in the research project and they are followed from infancy long into adulthood. The newly published study is part of FinnBrain's gut-brain axis sub-project led by Adjunct Professor, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Linnea Karlsson.

University of Turku

Related Microbes Articles:

Rye is healthy, thanks to an interplay of microbes
Eating rye comes with a variety of health benefits. A new study from the University of Eastern Finland now shows that both lactic acid bacteria and gut bacteria contribute to the health benefits of rye.
Gut microbes may affect the course of ALS
Researchers isolated a molecule that may be under-produced in the guts of patients.
Gut microbes associated with temperament traits in children
Scientists in the FinnBrain research project of the University of Turku discovered that the gut microbes of a 2.5-month-old infant are associated with the temperament traits manifested at six months of age.
Gut microbes eat our medication
Researchers have discovered one of the first concrete examples of how the microbiome can interfere with a drug's intended path through the body.
Microbes can grow on nitric oxide
Nitric oxide (NO) is a central molecule of the global nitrogen cycle.
More Microbes News and Microbes Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...