Doctors in Finland say they can determine if a baby is likely to grow up to be overweight by just looking at their poop.
The study, presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, reported that a newborn's first stool, called meconium, contains bacteria that tell what they ingested inside the mother's womb.
The research is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Marker Of Obesity
A team of researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland followed 212 babies for a period of three years. They examined their meconiums to identify the kinds of bacteria pre and postnatal. Follow-up stool samples were collected at year one.
The team measured the children's height and weight by the time they reached age 3. They found that those who were overweight had higher abundance of Bacteroidetes phylum (29 percent) compared to those who were not overweight (15 percent). They also had a relative lower abundance of Proteobacteria at 19 percent compared to 35 percent in children with normal weight.
"The microbiome of the first stool, formed in utero during fetal period, was associated with subsequent overweight at the age of three years," said lead author Dr. Katja Korpela of the PEDEGO Research Unit and Medical Research Center Oulu.
Stools collected at one year of age did not show the same bacterial composition.
Interestingly, infants who received doses of antibiotics in their first year had less amounts of Actinobacteria compared to those who had drug exposures shortly after birth.
This demonstrated that exposure to antibiotics or antimicrobials has long-lasting effects on the population of gut bacteria during the first year of life.
Importance Of Gut Bacteria
Microbiome is the population of a variety of bacteria in the gut consisting of viruses, fungi, and other organisms. Microbiome is responsible for the proper maturation of the gut. It is also linked to overall mental health, obesity, immunity heart disease, and cancer.
A study recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology reported that antibiotics taken during pregnancy increase the child's risk of severe infection for the first six years of life.
The risk was higher when the mothers received the antibiotics closer to their delivery date. Children, whose mothers have had history of prenatal antibiotics, who were delivered vaginally had greater risk of infections.
Various studies also linked antibiotic use to a range of health problems including obesity, asthma, and gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn's, celiac disease, and bowel cancer.
Global antibiotic consumption is estimated to increase three-fold by 2030, according to a new assessment by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Experts urged to reduce antibiotic use without restrictions or risk generations of chronic ill health.