Intestinal microbiota and childhood neurodevelopment


The intestinal microbiota is the ecosystem of microorganisms that inhabit our intestine, and in recent years it has emerged as a key player in the world of children’s neurodevelopment. This complex system of bacteria, viruses, and fungi not only performs digestive functions, but also appears to have a certain impact on the brain health of boys and girls.

Communication between the intestinal microbiota and the brain is mediated by a complex network of signals known as the gut-brain axis. This communication system appears to not only affect gastrointestinal function, but also behavior, mood, and cognitive development. Recent research suggests that certain imbalances in the gut microbiota may be related to different cognitive trajectories and behaviors.

The diversity and composition of the gut microbiota (i.e., how many species, which species, and how different they are from each other) appear to play a crucial role in regulating childhood neurodevelopment. A balanced microbiota, rich in a variety of beneficial microorganisms, could promote brain health and cognitive development. On the contrary, imbalances in the microbiota (the phenomenon known as dysbiosis) could have negative consequences on brain function and child behavior.

Infant brain plasticity allows early experiences, including the gut microbiota, to shape brain architecture and determine the trajectory of cognitive development. Strategies such as promoting breastfeeding, eating a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics, as well as minimizing the unnecessary use of antibiotics, can be essential to promote a rich and balanced intestinal microbiota and therefore support full neurodevelopment.

In summary, the relationship between the gut microbiota and childhood neurodevelopment is a fascinating and constantly evolving field of scientific research. At BiSC we will be able to study these associations in the near future to contribute more knowledge to the field. As you know, we have collected information about neurodevelopment and behavior during your sons’ and daughters’ visits with our neuropsychologist Muriel Ferrer. These data can be related to the databases on intestinal microbiota that we have obtained from the children’s feces. We leave you a few photos so you can see the process through which we have separated the microorganisms from the rest of the material in the feces and extracted their DNA. This DNA has been sent to a specialized laboratory in order to identify which species were present in each of the samples, in order to characterize the intestinal microbiota of each of the BiSC boys and girls.

Understanding how gut microorganisms influence brain development opens new avenues to address neurological disorders and promote overall health in children. By recognizing the importance of this link between the gut and the brain, we can move towards more holistic and personalized approaches to child health care, thereby improving the well-being and development of future generations.



This news has been written by Pol Jiménez, doctoral student of the BiSC Project.