What is it about?

Adversity experienced during a mother’s pregnancy, her child’s early life, or even her own childhood increases her child’s risk for mental illness. We show here for the first time in humans that adversity experienced in a mother’s childhood is also related to composition of her child’s gut microbiome. We also show that mothers’ symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy, and children’s stressful life events during the first two years of life, are related to children’s gut microbiome composition which echoes findings from other studies.

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Why is it important?

Some of the microbes that were related to children’s current and future mental health in the study likely perform similar functions in the gut to those affected by adversity. This finding suggests that changes to the gut microbiome may be one way that effects of adversity are transmitted across generations. Going forward, this study also highlights the need for further research into how adversity may impact functioning of the gut microbiome. Ultimately, knowing the role of the gut microbiome in increased rates of mental illness after adversity exposure may lead to new and improved treatments and preventatives for mental illness in adversity-exposed families.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Multigenerational adversity impacts on human gut microbiome composition and socioemotional functioning in early childhood, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2213768120.
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