Differences in gut microbiota, metabolites and immune markers have been observed between individuals with and without obesity. Our study determined the temporal association between infant fecal gut metabolites, sIgA and body mass index (BMI) z score of preschool children, independent of pre/postnatal factors.
The study includes a subset of 647 infants from the CHILD Cohort Study (recruited between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012). Fecal metabolites and sIgA were measured at 3–4 months of age, and age and sex adjusted BMI z scores at 1 and 3 years of age. Associations between the metabolites, IgA, and child BMI z scores at age 1 and 3 years were tested using linear regression adjusted for pre/postnatal factors (breastfeeding, birthweight-for-gestational age, birthmode and IAP, solid food introduction).
Mean BMI z score for all infants was 0.34 (SD 1.16) at 1 year (N = 647) and 0.71 (SD 1.06) at 3 years (N = 573). High fecal formate in infancy was associated with a significantly lower BMI z score (adjusted mean difference −0.23 (95% CI −0.42, −0.04)) and high butyrate was associated with a higher BMI z score (adjusted mean difference 0.21 (95% CI 0.01, 0.41)) at age 3 years only. The influence of formate and butyrate on BMI z score at age 3 were seen only in those that were not exclusively breastfed at stool sample collection (adjusted mean difference for high formate/EBF- group: −0.33 (95%CI −0.55, −0.10) and 0.25 (95% CI 0.02, 0.47) for high butyrate/EBF- group). No associations were seen between sIgA and BMI z score at age 1 or 3 years in adjusted regression models.
Conclusion and relevance
Differences in fecal metabolite levels in early infancy were associated with childhood BMI. This study identifies an important area of future research in understanding the pathogenesis of obesity.
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Delayed gut microbiota maturation in the first year of life is a hallmark of pediatric allergic disease
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A list of variables available in the CHILD Cohort Study is available at https://childstudy.ca/for-researchers/study-data/. Researchers interested in collaborating on a project and accessing CHILD Cohort Study data should contact the Study’s National Coordinating Center (NCC) to discuss their needs before initiating a formal request. To contact the NCC, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about data access for the CHILD Cohort Study can be found at https://childstudy.ca/forresearchers/data-access/.
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We thank the CHILD Cohort Study (CHILD) participant families for their dedication and commitment to advancing health research as well as the whole CHILD study team, which includes interviewers, nurses, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, and receptionists. We also thank Susan Goruk for her assistance in sIgA analysis, Theodore Konya for his work on the microbiota sample processing and analysis and Jennifer Petrie for her assistance in data entry. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network of Centers of Excellence provided core funding for the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study. This research was specifically funded by CIHR Microbiome Initiative team grant 227312 and the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute at the University of Alberta.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Bridgman, S.L., Malmuthuge, N., Mandal, R. et al. Childhood body mass index and associations with infant gut metabolites and secretory IgA: findings from a prospective cohort study. Int J Obes 46, 1712–1719 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-022-01183-3
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