Health Predictions and Your Baby’s Diaper

Health Predictions and Your Baby’s DiaperYou may not be terribly keen on looking at the contents of your baby’s diaper but researchers are. That’s because the clues that lie in that pile of poo may shed light into many health predictions, including your baby’s intelligence.

It is all related to the microbiome. The microbiome – community of gut bacteria – has a big impact on a person’s health. There are trillions of bacteria that live there, dictating immune strength and many other health factors.

Babies begin to build their microbiome at birth and how they are born is their initiation process. Babies born vaginally are immediately colonized with all sorts of microbes from their mother, which becomes the beginning of their microbiome. As unhealthy as that may seem, it is actually a tremendous way to build immune health.

Breastfeeding is another fantastic way to contribute to your baby’s microbiome and strengthen her gut. That’s because breast milk is very easy to digest. It seals the gut and prevents pathogens from entering the blood stream (leaky gut).

The most recent study on babies’ microbiome took a different approach. This time researchers wanted to know the link between the microbiome and intelligence. The study done out of the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine reviewed diaper samples from one-year olds and then tested their cognition at age two.

They discovered that certain colonies of microbial communities – Bacteroids – were associated with higher intelligence. Also, a less diverse and more specific microbiome was linked with greater cognition. This is contrary to other health predications that show greater diversity reduces risk of certain diseases and conditions.

Researchers don’t know why certain types of bacteria support higher brain function or even how to advise parents on how to create the ideal microbiome for intelligence. All of these areas are yet to be determined as research continues.

However, the implications are fascinating. If we can alter the mircobiome, can we affect babies’ intelligence or reduce the risk of developmental disorders? One surprising factor that researchers realized was that the microbiomes of babies are much like adults by the age of one. Perhaps earlier intervention will be necessary to make significant changes.

The next time you change a smelly diaper, just think, it could hold the key to your baby’s health.

Sources: Science Daily and CNN