Can gut microbiota throughout the first 10 years of life predict executive functioning in childhood?

Henrik Andreas Eckermann*, Yangwenshan Ou, Leo Lahti, Carolina de Weerth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Animal models suggest that the gut microbiota can influence cognitive development and functioning via various pathways. In line with that, a first human study found associations between infant fecal microbiota composition and cognition at 2 years of age. This longitudinal study investigated whether fecal microbiota composition in infancy and childhood is associated with executive functioning in childhood. We followed healthy individuals from birth to their 10th year of life. Executive functioning was assessed using the Digit Span working memory test at 10 years of age and the ecologically valid Behavior Rating Inventory for executive functioning at 8 and 10 years. Stool samples were collected at month 1, 3 and 4 as well as at 6 and 10 years. The V4 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA was analyzed to determine microbial composition at the genus level. Using established statistical techniques for microbiota analysis, we did not find associations between fecal microbiota composition and executive functioning after accounting for breastfeeding, maternal education, child sex and age. Our study results are most compatible with the absence or only a weak relationship between infant and childhood fecal microbiota composition and executive functioning in childhood in healthy community children.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22226
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • children's mental health
  • cognitive development
  • longitudinal study
  • microbiome

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