The gut microbiota is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Children are essentially born without microbes in their gut, and they are immediately colonized upon birth. The next several years are critical in establishing a person’s endogenous gut microbiota.Professor Licht summarizes, "When you look at an adult’s gut microbiota, it is more or less like a fingerprint."
Later in life, the gut microbiota can change in response to factors such as diet, but only slightly. Each adult has a very distinct gut microbiota.As with everything in life, there's much more to learn. But what is it reasonable to infer from this study? If the foods we feed our children in their earliest years -- and not maternal obesity -- has the most significant influence on the lifelong composition of our gut bacteria, all the more reason to stop the cycle of fat-shaming mothers. Additionally, we need to be thoughtful about what we feed our babies, and how we insure all families have access to the best, most nutritious food.
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