Association of the Infant Gut Microbiome with Temperament at Nine Months of Age: A Michigan Cohort Study

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Though studies in animals and humans link the gut microbiota to brain development and control of behavior, little research has examined this connection in healthy infants. This prospective study could determine associations between infant gut microbiota at 3 months, and infant temperament at 9 months, in a prospective pregnancy cohort (Michigan Archive for Research on Child Health; n = 159). Microbiota profiling with 16S rRNA gene sequencing was conducted on fecal samples obtained at 3 months of age. Based on the relative abundance of gut microbiotas, three groups were identified, and each group was characterized by different microbes. Infant temperament outcomes were reported by mothers using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised Very Short Form at a mean age of 9.4 months. Fully adjusted multivariate linear regression models showed that certain clusters were associated with higher negative emotionality scores, prominently among infants who had poor vitamin D intake. However, no associations were evident between gut microbiota clusters and temperament scales after FDR correction. After using three differential abundance tools, Firmicutes was associated with higher positive affect/surgency scores, whereas Clostridioides was associated with lower scores. An association between the gut microbiota and early infancy temperament was observed; thus, this study warrants replication, with a particular focus on vitamin D moderation.

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