Gut and Brain – another link
A new study adds to our growing understanding of the link between our gut and our brain.
Babies who are born extremely prematurely are at high risk of brain damage. New research has found that the type of bacteria present in an infant’s gut may play a key role, opening up the possibility for new treatments in the future.
As a foetus develops, the gut, brain and immune system are closely linked. Researchers from the University of Vienna looked at this connection and found that in preterm infants the microbiome can become unbalanced, leading to neurological damage.
The scientists were able to identify patterns in the microbiome and immune response that are linked to the progression of brain injury. Importantly, these patterns can be detected before brain injury occurs, giving hope that interventions may be developed that could prevent or minimise brain injury in these children.
The study looked at 60 premature infants, born before 28 weeks and weighing less than one kilogram. The researchers gathered data on the infants’ microbiomes, brain wave recordings and MRI images of their brains.
The testing showed that excessive growth of one particular type of bacterium, Klebsiella, can lead to elevated T-cell levels in the immune system, which can lead to brain damage.
The researchers plan to continue following the development of motor and cognitive skills as the children grow, as these outcomes only become apparent over years.
They are hopeful their findings could lead to future preventative treatments for pre-term infants.
At PIM we have a particular interest in the microbiome and the role of our gut in our health and wellbeing. Contact us to find out more.