Posted on Fri, 22 May 15
A remarkable new study found that infants who received probiotics during the first 6-months of life were less likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Asperger syndrome.
Several studies in mice have found that changes in digestive health and gut bacterial balance can influence brain function and behavior. Further, emerging evidence in human adults has shown that probiotics can influence brain activity and improve mood.
It is thought that the presence of healthy gut bacteria at birth and in early life may play an important role in the development of a healthy brain and nervous system but human studies have been non-existent, until now.
To see if early life exposure to a probiotic influenced the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in life infants who receive Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (or placebo) during the first 6 months of life were followed-up 13 years later for a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Asperger syndrome (AS).
It was found that ADHD or AS was present in 17.1% of children in the placebo group and none in the probiotic group. And those children who developed a neuropsychiatric disorder tended to have lower Bifidobacterium species bacteria during the first 6 months of life when compared to healthy children.
This is the first time an association between early life probiotic use and lower risk of neuropsychiatric disorders in child hood has been demonstrated.
“Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has been shown to stabilize the gut permeability barrier by effects on tight junctions, mucin production and antigen-specific immunoglobulin A production,” point out the investigators, providing some rationale for their observations. They also highlighted recent experimental research demonstrating that Lactobacillus rhamnosus regulates emotional behavior and a central neurochemical system associated with neuropsychiatric disorders (2).
In conclusion “our findings demonstrate a possible preventive risk reducing effect of a probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG on later development of ADHD and AS” they write. These very promising initial observations require further investigation.
- Pärtty A, Kalliomäki M, Wacklin P, Salminen S, Isolauri E. A possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial. Pediatr Res. 2015 Mar 11. doi: 10.1038/pr.2015.51. [Epub ahead of print]
- Bravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV, et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011;108:16050–5.