Messy diapers help nutritionists understand how babies grow healthy

face of smiling baby

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A study that began with messy diapers is helping scientists understand how nutrition helps babies grow into healthy children, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research nutritionist.

Because scientists cannot physically examine the infant intestines, a team of U.S. researchers analyzed fecal samples from several groups of infants – from premature to full-term babies – to get a molecular “fingerprint” on how they were developing in relation to breast milk or formula consumption.

“This study is a proof-of-principle that we can noninvasively monitor the biology of the intestine and the immune system in these highly premature infants and full-term infants in order to unravel the developmental processes that are just fine in the healthy babies, but in the premature babies, are not going along very well,” said Robert Chapkin, a principal investigator in the study at AgriLife Research and a distinguished professor at Texas A&M University.

He said the purpose of such information would be to optimize treatments given to help babies.

“After all, every mother and father want the healthiest baby possible. They want a baby that thrives. They all want brilliant babies,” he said. “A lot of these developmental processes impact neural development and other components. We know enough about biology now that if there are serious disruptions in the early developmental process, they can have impact for the entire life of that human.”

More at AgriLife Today

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