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Bacteria influence the way babies perceive and experience fear

06/26/2021 at 12:01 AM CEST

It is very normal for children to fear various things, but Why are some babies more afraid than others?

According to one study, the answer is related to your intestinal microbiota, that is, with the set of bacteria that live in your intestine.

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This research highlights that observing it could help to prevent the appearance of diseases from mental health in the future.

Pioneering study

This pioneering study, conducted by the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina, has analyzed 30 babies.

And the results are surprising: gut microbiome it was different in babies with strong fear responses and in those with milder reactions.

To determine whether the gut microbiome was connected to the fear response in humans, a simple pilot study.

In this way, the researchers characterized the microbiome of the little ones by analyzing their stool samples.

On the other hand, they evaluated their response to fear observing how they reacted when someone entered the room wearing a Halloween mask.

Microbiota and amygdala

Later, the team recorded images of the brains of children using MRI technology.

They thus discovered that the content of the microbial community one year of age was associated with the size of the amygdala.

This structure located in the temporal lobe of the brain is involved in the making of quick decisions about threats potentials.

Revealing associations

By collecting all the data, the researchers looked at significant associations between specific characteristics of the gut microbiome and the strength of babies’ fear responses.

The results highlighted that children with uneven microbiomes They had more fear than those babies who had a more balanced microbiota.

That is, children with strong responses to fear had more than some types of bacteria and less of others.

For greater fidelity of results, the show was exhaustively selected with as many factors as possible that impact the gut microbiome.

For example, all the children who have been part of this study were breastfed and none received antibiotics.

Gut and mental health?

The findings of this study are highly relevant to mental health.

On the one hand, they can help to understand why there are babies who are more nervous or fearful.

And on the other, understanding this could also help prevent future mental problems.

Experts emphasize that the way we respond to situations that scare us in the first years of life is very relevant.

This could be a indicator of what our mental health will be like in the future.

As they comment, the gut microbiota of a baby at birth could indicate to professionals that a child may need to be monitored As it grows.

In this way, one could anticipate any problems and it would ensure that their mental health is nurtured and cared for.

For example, in the case of children who experienced very afraid there is an increased risk of developing disorders such as anxiety or depression in the future.

On the other hand, if the opposite extreme happens and the children they don’t react faced with fearful situations, they may have features without emotions or antisocial behavior.

In summary, observing what the gut microbiota of a baby is like could give us a clue of its emotional state.

This would help to be able to provide preventive care to avoid the appearance of mental health disorders, something that usually occurs for the first time during the adolescence.

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