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Targeting the Infant Gut Microbiota through a Perinatal Educational Dietary Intervention

Why is this important?

The state of the gut microbiota (bacteria) during infancy may be relevant for development of the immune system and the brain. Animal studies highlight that there is a critical development window in early life, where disturbances in the gut microbiota (bacteria) cause problems with development of the immune system, metabolism and brain structure.

How are we doing this study?

There is emerging evidence that a mother’s diet during pregnancy is related her infant’s gut microbiota. What we are not sure about is whether it’s possible to change the infant gut microbiota by giving mothers a different diet. We are doing the ‘Healthy Parents, Healthy Kids’ study because we want to know whether the maternal diet can alter the microbiota that babies are colonised with in the first month of life. We are trialling a dietary intervention delivered during the third trimester of pregnancy and comparing it against the advice that women receive from their health care provider.

What are we hoping to find?

We are looking for differences in the types and quantities of microbiota in the infant gut. If it turns out that the infant gut microbiota can be influenced by the prenatal diet, then this would be a very important finding for those hoping to prevent allergy or mental disorders by targeting the early life gut microbiota.


Results from this study

This study completed in 2021 and the results have been published in the following manuscripts:

Dawson SL, Mohebbi M, Craig JM, Dawson P, Clarke G, Tang ML, et al. Targeting the perinatal diet to modulate the gut microbiota increases dietary variety and prebiotic and probiotic food intakes: results from a randomised controlled trial. Public Health Nutr. 2021;24(5):1129-41. doi: 10.1017/S1368980020003511.

The Food & Mood Centre acknowledge the support of the Wilson Foundation in funding microbiome analysis for this study.