Aug 30 2015

Gut Bacteria & Some Toddlers Odd Behavior

Published by at 12:23 pm under probiotic supplements

Is gut bacteria the reason for your toddler’s recent behavior?
Researchers are exploring how microbial diversity may affect the disposition of toddlers.

Kids are all different. Take ten kids and find ten different personalities and dispositions. Children from the same parents and family environment can be polar opposites. It leaves parents and scientists perplexed. Now, researchers are adding a new item to the list of things that could affect behavior and temperament in children in addition to gender, environment and genes to name a few. A new study out of Ohio State University is looking into how the amount and diversity of gut bacteria in children may affect their behavior and temperment.1,2

The study involved researchers taking stool samples from 77 children ranging in age from 18-27 months. Scientists took into consideration how they were delivered at birth, their breastfeeding history and dietary patterns, as all of these factors directly impact a child’s microbiome.1,2

The second part of the study involved parents completing questionnaires about their children’s temperament and behavior. They focused on 18 different traits within three main categories: negative affectivity, which measures such things as fidgeting, fear, shyness, discomfort, shyness, environmental sensitivity and ability to be soothed; surgency/extraversion, which measures impulsivity, social and activity level, and pleasure derived from exciting situations and anticipation of pleasure; and effortful control, which examines a child’s ability to stop doing something when asked, redirecting attention from one activity to another, focus and enjoyment in normal activities.2

After measuring all the data, the researchers found that “…both boys and girls who had greater diversity of bacteria in their gut were likely to have higher scores for “surgency.”…”3 The connection between temperament and gut microbiome wasn’t as consistent in girls as it was in boys. However, in girls, behaviors like focused attention, self-restraint and cuddliness were connected to a lower diversity of gut microbiota. Additionally, this study “…did not look at “acting up” or bad behavior, but at temperament scales, which included how extrovert and physically active a child is…”1,2*

Additionally, by observing how toddlers react to stress, combined with analyzing their microbiome, researchers are hoping they can help doctors identify and possibly prevent chronic health issues early on.1 “…There is substantial evidence that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones – the same hormones that have been implicated in chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma…”according to Lisa Christian, Ph. D., a researcher with Ohio State’s University for Behavioral Medicine Research.1

It is hard to tell which came first, the chicken or the egg in this situation. Are active kids exposed to more bacteria by the nature of their busyness, or does more gut bacteria lead to a more active kid? Stress can also affect the hormones that impact the acidity of the gut, which can alter the bacteria. One more thing to note is that the researchers only tested bacteria in stool samples, which can be different from that living in the intestine, (which is difficult to acquire samples).

“…Cross-sectional studies cannot determine which factor came first – in this case, whether the differences in bacteria were present before the children developed a particular temperament. This means they cannot say which factor might potentially be influencing the other…” 2

Researchers noted that this study is not suggesting that gut bacteria should be altered in kids or that changing the diversity of the bacteria in your child’s microbiome should be substituted for traditional guidance, discipline or nurturing– or feeding them a healthy diet. It merely sheds light on the idea that temperament may be affected by gut bacteria diversity and that this is a field of study worth watching in the future.

As you send your toddler off to preschool, remember children are notorious for eating lots of sugar and carbohydrates which turn into sugar. Sugar feeds the unhealthy bacteria. This, combined with the fact that most kids have been on a round of antibiotics at one time or another, leads to a compromised microbiome and therefore a compromised immune system. Maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and that of your family is essential for the purpose of good digestion, building a strong immune system and overall well being. There is plenty of research exploring the connection between mental state and the health of your gut, so the idea that it can affect your children’s mood and temperament is an area of research that is worth keeping an eye on. In addition to focusing on an organic, non processed diet for your children, supplement with Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™. If your children don’t take capsules, try the Body Biotics Children’s Chewables in a tasty berry flavor.

Healthiest wishes,

Kelli

 

Resources:

  1. http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/05/29/gutbacteria
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/05May/Pages/Is-gut-bacteria-responsible-for-the-terrible-twos-in-toddlers.aspx

 

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