The microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live in the human digestive system, and research has shown that it plays a crucial role in digestion, immune function, and overall health.
In children with undernutrition, the gut microbiome is often altered , with reduced diversity and changes in the types of bacteria present.
One strategy for improving undernutrition in children is to Target the microbiome directly. This can be achieved through interventions such as probiotics , prebiotics and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts, while prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria.
FMT involves the transfer of fecal matter from a healthy donor into a gut of a recipient to a healthy gut microbiome.
Studies have shown that probiotics, prebiotics and FMT can improve the microbiome in the undernourished children, leading to improved growth and development, increased immune function, and reduced risk of infection. For example, a randomized controlled trial in Malawi found that a synbiotic ( a combination of probiotics and prebiotics) improved growth in undernourished children compared to a placebo.
So, targeting the gut microbiome has the potential to be an effective and relatively inexpensive approach for improving undernutrition in children. However, further research is needed to determine the optimal interventions, dosages , and duration of treatment.
Additionally , access to these interventions may be limited in low-income settings, so efforts to increase availability and affordability will be necessary to make a significant impact on child undernutrition.
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