News / Health

Study: Malnutrition Damages Gut Microbes, Stunting Children's Growth, Development

Art Chimes
Inside every one of us, trillions of microbes are busy in our intestines.

They help extract nutrients from the food we eat. But that colony of bacteria and other organisms can be damaged by malnutrition, and a study of children in South Asia indicates the damage can last even after the child is treated.
 
Malnutrition is one of the leading health challenges facing young children in developing countries.
 
Death rates are down, thanks in part to super-nutritional food therapies — such as Plumpy’Nut — and programs to treat malnourished kids. But microbiologist Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University in Saint Louis says malnutrition has long-term consequences.
 
A Bangladeshi mother holds her child, who was treated for malnutrition at the International Centre for Diarrhoel Disease Research in Dhaka.(Photo by Rabiul Hasan/International Centre For Diarrhoeal Disease Research)A Bangladeshi mother holds her child, who was treated for malnutrition at the International Centre for Diarrhoel Disease Research in Dhaka.(Photo by Rabiul Hasan/International Centre For Diarrhoeal Disease Research)
x
A Bangladeshi mother holds her child, who was treated for malnutrition at the International Centre for Diarrhoel Disease Research in Dhaka.(Photo by Rabiul Hasan/International Centre For Diarrhoeal Disease Research)
A Bangladeshi mother holds her child, who was treated for malnutrition at the International Centre for Diarrhoel Disease Research in Dhaka.(Photo by Rabiul Hasan/International Centre For Diarrhoeal Disease Research)

“Stunting, problems with immune function, [and] reductions in IQ persist, despite these therapeutic interventions,” said microbiologist Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, of Washington University in Saint Louis. “And the question is, why?”
 
Children who go through a period of malnutrition may be at a permanent disadvantage.
 
In a new study in Bangladesh, Gordon and his colleagues used DNA to study the intestinal microbes, also called the microbiota, which normally change — or “mature” — as a child gets older.

They found that children who were undernourished had immature microbiota, even after getting the standard therapy of antibiotics and food supplements.
 
“The therapeutic food caused them to gain weight, but it didn’t affect the state of maturity of their microbiota,” he said.
 
Gordon thinks reversing the effects of malnutrition requires not just healthy food but also a gut full of healthy, mature microbes.
 
“Whether healthy growth is possible with this immaturity, we don’t think so,” he said.
 
A lot of work stands between this study and better treatments for malnutrition, which might include supplements containing “good” bacteria, along with improved therapeutic foods.
 
But the first author of the paper, Washington University MD-PhD student Sathish Subramanian, says he and his colleagues are encouraged by the results of their research.
 
“This gives us hope that through this study and others to come, that we will better understand the variation of microbiota structure across different children, across varying nutritional status, and possibly across different geographies,” he said.
 
The research paper by Supramanian, Gordon, and their colleagues is published online in Nature.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid