London: After the age of nine months, the development of the infant gut microbiota is driven by diet, not maternal obesity, a new study says.
The gut microbiota is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract.
While many previous studies have focused on the impact of early infant diet, particularly breastfeeding, few studies have addressed the influence of maternal obesity on the infant gut microbiota, which can occur either through microbes transmitted during birth or through the dietary habits of the family.
"It is well known that breast feeding has a great impact on gut microbiota, but nobody has addressed the effect of diet at this age before," said study senior author Tine Rask Licht, professor at Technical University of Denmark, Soborg, Denmark.
"Our results reveal that the transition from early infant feeding to family foods is a major determinant for gut microbiota development," Licht noted.
"Maternal obesity did not influence microbial diversity or specific taxon abundances during the complementary feeding period," Licht noted.
The study was published online in mSphere, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
The researchers compared the gut microbiotas of two cohorts of infants, one born from a random sample of 114 healthy mothers and the other born from 113 obese mothers.
Microbiota data were compared to breastfeeding patterns and detailed individual dietary recordings.
The researchers found that the major determinants of gut microbiota development were breastfeeding duration and composition of the complementary diet.
In both cohorts, gut microbial composition were strongly affected by introduction of family foods with high protein and fibre contents, the study said.