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Poop May Be The Best Way To See Into Your Baby’s Future, Study Says

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Examining poop may be a great way to predict how well a baby will develop mentally and cognitively, according to a study published in late June.

The findings are significant because they affirm that there is a relationship between bacterial composition and brain development.

Researchers determined the potential benefits of studying a baby’s fecal matter by taking samples from nearly 100 1-year-olds and studying the specimens.

They discovered that infants with excrement composed of less diverse microbiomes performed better during cognitive testing as 2-year-olds, compared to those with a higher variance of microorganisms. Also, feces with relatively high levels of the bacterial genus Bacteroides were more likely to indicate higher cognitive scores for many babies.

Rebecca Knickmeyer, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said she found her study’s results “surprising.”

“We had originally predicted that children with highly diverse microbiomes would perform better — since other studies have shown that low diversity in infancy is associated with negative health outcomes, including type 1 diabetes and asthma,” Knickmeyer said, according to a press release from EurekAlert. “Our work suggests that an ‘optimal’ microbiome for cognitive and psychiatric outcomes may be different than an ‘optimal’ microbiome for other outcomes.”

Knickmeyer and her associates are now using the new research to figure out what the optimal internal makeup, or “bacterial community,” is for a child’s development.

“Are the bacteria actually ‘communicating’ with the developing brain?” Knickmeyer asked, according to EurekAlert. “That’s something that we are working on now, so we’re looking at some signaling pathways that might be involved.”

The study could also lead to further research in other areas of child development, like the growth of anxiety and social skills. (RELATED: Thinking About Death Makes You A Better Human, Says Study)

“Big picture: these results suggest you may be able to guide the development of the microbiome to optimize cognitive development or reduce the risk for disorders like autism which can include problems with cognition and language,” Knickmeyer concluded.

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