Gut check suggests possible treatments for kids with deficient diets
In children suffering from malnutrition, the right mix of microbes might be what’s missing.
The bacteria living in kids’ guts play a starring role in growth and development, three new studies published February 18 in Science and Cell suggest.
Food matters, too, but not as much as people once thought, says biologist Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia, who was not involved in the new work. “People used to think if you just fed the kids they’d be fine,” Finlay says. “But that didn’t work.” Instead, certain gut microbes might be needed to protect children suffering from poor diets. “It’s extremely exciting,” he says. “We know what causes malnutrition, and maybe now we can do something to fix it.”
Each year, malnutrition contributes to the deaths of more than a million children worldwide. Millions others survive, but a lack of calories or nutrients can stunt