How are gut microbiomes and pediatric neurological, cognitive conditions being linked?


Rob Knight, PhD, Wolfe Endowed Chair in Microbiome Science at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, professor of pediatrics, UCSD, explains how links between gut microbiomes and cognitive and neurological conditions are being researched and what could be ahead for these associations in children.

Rob Knight, PhD, Wolfe Endowed Chair in Microbiome Science at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, professor of pediatrics, UCSD, explains the prevalence of research regarding gut microbiomes and the potential role they play in cognitive and neurological conditions in children. Knight discusses conditions, that were once primarily found in adults, that could be further linked to the pediatric population in children.

This is the second video with Knight discussing what type of role gut microbiomes can play in children. Click here for the first interview.

Transcript (edited for clarity):

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

Is there a prevalence increasing right now regarding brain health and the gut and the pediatric population that is being revealed by more and more studies? Can you touch on the overall prevalence of this?

Rob Knight, PhD:

Sure. The prevalence specifically of neurological or cognitive symptoms that are linked to the gut, I think it's difficult to quantify that. What's going on in microbiome research right at the moment, is much more explanation of trends that have been picked up by easier methods. For example, epidemiological data, derived from the electronic health record, rather than you necessarily got microbiome sequencing on all these individuals. So a lot of what we're doing at the moment was trying to explain the underlying mechanism behind trends that are picked up and other ways. But the very rapid rise in prevalence of autism, for example, of ADHD, or major depressive disorder, all of those conditions have been linked to the gut microbiome, at least in animal models, the gut microbiome can be causal for those conditions, although no animal model is perfect in recapturing any of those conditions. So, you always have to be a bit careful about what you want to conclude from these kinds of studies. But certainly, in terms of establishing the principle, that there could be microbes that we want to either promote the growth of, or limit the growth of in order to either prevent those conditions upfront, or secure them, I think, is really important. It's also really critical to recognize that we're seeing conditions that used to be only found on adults earlier and earlier in life. So, if we think about fatty liver disease, for example, or if we think about type 2 diabetes, which we used to call adult onset diabetes, but we don't anymore, a real concern is what are the conditions that currently we associate only with adults. For example, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis, that have been very clearly linked to the gut microbiome, do we need to keep a watch out for those and children as well, given the general increase in prevalence of a lot of different conditions that are related to inflammation and also related to the gut microbiome which plays a key role in that inflammatory response.

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