By Pol Allingham via SWNS
A baby’s gut bacteria indicates whether they will develop diabetes decades later, according to a new study.
Children who develop diabetes at around 13 years of age have a “notably different” make-up to the contents of their stomach at the age of 12 months to healthy youngsters, say scientists.
They believe that examining the gut could help identify high-risk children and steer them towards a better diet to prevent the disease establishing.
Traditional type 1 diabetes markers are autoantibodies, but they are rarely picked up before the tot reaches six months. Generally, they are noticed between nine and 36 months.
Dr. Malin Belteky, of Crown Princess Victoria’s Children’s Hospital, Sweden, said: “Our findings indicate that the gut of infants who go on to develop type 1 diabetes is notably different from healthy babies and that several microbial biomarkers associated with future disease may be present as early as 1 year of age.
“This discovery could be used to help identity infants at highest risk of developing type 1 diabetes before or during the first stage of disease and could offer the opportunity to bolster a healthy gut microbiome to prevent the disease from becoming established.”
Scientists from the University of Florida found kids who went on to be diagnosed had high numbers of Firmicutes known as Enterococcus, Gemella and Hungatella, and high levels of Bacteroides known as Porphyromonas.
Both these Firmicutes and Bacteriodes promote inflammation and influence the immune response.
The children’s intestines also contained fewer healthy bacteria than the healthy controls, particularly ones that keep metabolism and immunity strong.
Missing Firmicutes Anerostipes, Flavonifractor and Eubacterium produce butyrate, a key short-chain fatty acid that prevents inflammation and fuels cells lining the gut to keep the colon healthy.
Genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as gut health, contribute to the disorder. Metabolism, body weight and the immune system are all influenced by the microbiomes.
Co-lead author Patricia Milletich, of the University of Florida, said: “Although the average age at which diabetes was diagnosed in our study was more than a decade after samples were collected, we identified distinct microbial signatures at 1 year of age and noted a decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria as seen in previous studies in high-risk populations.”
The study looked at 16 babies who went on to develop type 1 diabetes at, on average, 13 years old. The youngest became diabetic at one year and four months, and the oldest at 21 and four months. There were 32 control infants who were healthy until reaching 20.
At the beginning of the research, the team studied microbiomes in the stool of the kids at one year old. All came from the same region, type of household, duration of breastfeeding, and month of sample collection.
Parents completed questionnaires when the baby was born and reached one year old, and completed a diary on pregnancy, nutrition and lifestyle factors during the kid’s first year. This included parents’ drinking and smoking habits.
Scientists determined and compared which species of microbes lived inside each kid’s intestine.
Co-author Professor Eric Triplett, of the University of Florida, said the study, published in the journal Diabetologia, could reveal how a child’s immune system and environment affect their health.
He said: “The autoimmune processes usually begin long before any clinical signs of disease appear, highlighting how differences in the make-up of the infant gut microbiome could shed important light on the complex interaction between the developing immune system, environmental exposures in childhood, and autoimmunity.
“Studies with much larger cohorts of prospectively-traced individuals will be required to establish which are the strongest biomarkers and how effectively they can predict disease.”