Microbiota and child health
Balance in the microbiota – the collections of microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses) that live in the human body – essential for good health. To share microbiota knowledge, the Biocodex Microbiota Institute, an expert in research and distribution of advances in the field, regularly releases themed dossiers for health professionals on its website www.biocodexmicrobiotainstitute.com/en/pro.
The themed dossier “Microbiota and Child Health” published at the end of April, reports on the latest advances on the link between microbiota and childhood health. Without intending to be exhaustive, the dossier sheds light on the current state of knowledge and perspectives on four main themes: exposure to antibiotics, behavior disorders, respiratory diseases, and digestive disorders. It puts the emphasis on the central role played by the microbiota throughout a child’s physical and psychological development.
ANTIBIOTICS: IMPACT ON THE MICROBIOTA AND CHILDHOOD HEALTH
Recent scientific knowledge has shown the impact of antibiotic use – by the mother and/or the child – on the microbiota and on childhood health in the long and short terms (overweight and obesity, IBD, antibiotic resistance, etc.).
In spite of the undeniable benefits of antibiotics, this data prompts a reevaluation of the risks and benefits so they can be better deployed, particularly intrapartum and during the perinatal period.
ROLE OF THE INTESTINAL MICROBIOTA IN BEHAVIOR DISORDERS IN CHILDREN
The interaction between the intestinal microbiota and child behavior has been the focus of many studies in recent years.
This is true for autism, which is marked by intestinal and oral dysbioses that could open new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues. This is also the case for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), characterized by certain system changes associated with intestinal dysbiosis and suspected to be the cause of the disease.
CONNECTION BETWEEN THE RESPIRATORY MICROBIOTA AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES
The respiratory microbiota is involved in numerous respiratory diseases, like pulmonary infections related to cystic fibrosis. In children, the evolution of the disease already correlates with variations in microbial populations in the respiratory tract. Researchers are attempting to identify therapeutic options by identifying the mechanisms at work.
A connection between the nasal microbiota and bronchiolitis in newborns has also been the subject of recent studies. Less invasive than nasopharyngeal aspiration, nasal swabs are a reliable marker of the severity of the disease and offer a promising potential alternative.
INTESTINAL MICROBIOTA AND DIGESTIVE DISEASES
A close relationship has been established between the intestinal microbiota and childhood digestive diseases like diarrhea. The composition of the microbiota has an impact on the risk of developing certain disorders, and, conversely, dysbiosis secondary to a gastrointestinal disorder may play a role in continuing, aggravating, or accentuating its recurrence.
Persistent diarrhea, which remains potentially fatal, is the subject of numerous studies. Although a consensus has yet to form on the origin, hypotheses related to the intestinal microbiota, among others, have been put forth to decipher the pathogenesis.
EXPERT’S POINT OF VIEW
Professor Olivier Goulet, Head of the Department of Gastroenterology-Hepatology-Nutrition at Necker Children’s Hospital brings his expertise to bear on the connection between the intestinal microbiota and childhood digestive disorders, analyzes the situation in France, and offers several actionable options for providing better care.