Knowledge Hub

In the space of 30 minutes Prof Forssberg explores the importance of gut microbiota in childhood growth and development, with some interesting data on possible influences the million plus genes in our human microbiome can have on our genes, nerves, brain and behaviour. He provides some compelling evidence to suggest the effects of abnormal microbiota in development of many childhood illnesses including autism and other developmental/behavioural phenotypes. There is a tantalising view of the early evidence suggesting a potential critical period in which possible preventive and curative interventions could be possible. A ‘must watch’ for anyone interested in early childhood development and genetic modulation.

Microbiota and brain development: Implications for autism spectrum disorder

Knowledge Hub

In the space of 30 minutes Prof Forssberg explores the importance of gut microbiota in childhood growth and development, with some interesting data on possible influences the million plus genes in our human microbiome can have on our genes, nerves, brain and behaviour. He provides some compelling evidence to suggest the effects of abnormal microbiota in development of many childhood illnesses including autism and other developmental/behavioural phenotypes. There is a tantalising view of the early evidence suggesting a potential critical period in which possible preventive and curative interventions could be possible. A ‘must watch’ for anyone interested in early childhood development and genetic modulation.

Hits: 88

Synopsis of resource

There is a rapidly increasing body of research in both humans and animals to suggest that the microbiota in our bodies can have significant effects on gene expression, brain development, and even brain function. Experiments with mice illustrate both the ‘natural’ outcome of limited microbiota, and the significant positive impact of appropriately times fecal transplantation to improve the outcome of mice otherwise destined to have poor development. Early exploration of these findings in humans are encouraging.

Key learning outcomes

  • There are powerful interactions between humans and their many environments – human and biological
  • The role of the bacteria and other organisms in the human gut (the ‘microbiome) is becoming increasingly well defined in both exploratory and experimental research
  • There may be important causal links between some neurodevelopmental conditions and the human microbiome
  • There are tantalizing suggestions that early microbiome interventions may influence the course of children’s development.
Hans

Author

Hans Forssberg is Professor in neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet and Consultant in Neuropaediatrics at Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. He is past Dean and past Vice President of Karolinska Institutet and past member of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine. He has also been head of the Department of Paediatrics at Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital. His research has focused on children with neurodevelopmental disorders; from translational research on underlying mechanisms of motor and cognitive dysfunctions, to clinical research aiming at developing new methods for assessment and intervention. He has published more than 200 original research articles. Recently, he has shifted focus towards the global situation for children with developmental delay and disabilities, in particular in low and middle income countries. He is president of the International Alliance of Academies of Childhood Disability and past chairman of the European Academy of Childhood Disability.

Lecture recorded at the 30th EACD conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, May 28-31, 2018.