Once Malnourished, Children’s Growth Can’t be Normal: Study

Earlier studies have found that therapeutic food interventions have reduced mortality in children with severe acute malnutrition

Published: 12th June 2014 10:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2014 10:22 AM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: Children who are malnourished cannot really grow normally even when they are fed nourishing food as the microbial population in their guts remains immature, say scientists.

A study by scientists from Bangladesh and USA compared the microbial populations between healthy children in an urban slum in Dhaka in Bangladesh and children with severe acute malnutrition and some children with moderate acute malnutrition. They compared and analysed faecal samples and also checked for genetic and environmental factors, including diarrhoea. 

Earlier studies have found that therapeutic food interventions have reduced mortality in children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), but incomplete restoration of healthy growth remains a major problem.

The scientists said: “SAM is associated with significant relative microbiota immaturity that is only partially ameliorated following two widely used nutritional interventions. Immaturity is also evident in less severe forms of malnutrition.”

They suggest “More prolonged interventions with existing or new therapeutic foods and/or addition of gut microbes may be needed to achieve enduring repair of gut microbiota immaturity in childhood malnutrition and improve clinical outcomes.”

The study was recently published in the ‘Nature’ magazine.

Nachiket Marathe, a scientist at National centre for Cell Science in Pune, says: “Metabolites produced by bacteria in the gut have a profound effect on host health. The short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by gut microbiota help avoid colonization of pathogenic bacteria, provide energy source for colonic epithelial cells.

The SCFAs have been shown to reduce diet induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice.

The gut microbiota is known to be altered in many disease conditions like obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. This study highlighted the importance of altered gut flora as causative agents in disease. Thus, having a healthy gut flora essentially means being healthy.”

More from Bengaluru.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp