As your baby grows, it's natural to dream about what they will be like as adult. Will they be funny, kind, or smart? A surprising new study claims that clues to a child's intelligence are hiding inside... baby poop!
Yes, you read that right. Baby poop comes in different colours and consistencies. It can tell us what's going on in our little one's body. And it can also indicate what sort of conditions need to be addressed.
A recent study asserts that baby poop can offer even more insight.
Researchers from the University of Carolina's (UNC) School of Medicine published their findings in Biological Psychiatry.
The scoop on the fascinating possibilities of baby poop
Here are some key takeaways from the study that mums and dads will find interesting!
1. Babies with a certain type of bacteria in their poop excel in cognitive tests
Researchers examined the poop samples of 100 babies, all one year old. They found that those with less diverse microbiomes and lots of bacteroides scored higher in cognitive tests by age two.
"This is the first time an association between microbial communities and cognitive development has been demonstrated in humans," explains Rebecca Knickmeyer of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in a statement.
They assessed the babies using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning. This is a series of developmental tests that involve examining fine and gross motor skills, perceptual abilities, and language development.
2. Probiotics could affect brain development before the age of one
"We're not really at the point where we can say, 'Let's give everyone a certain probiotic,'" clarify the researchers in the statement.
But their findings shed light on the crucial role a baby's gut bacteria plays in brain development before the age of one.
"These results suggest you may be able to guide the development of the microbiome to optimize cognitive development or reduce the risk for disorders like autism which can include problems with cognition and language," say the researchers.
3. This raises the question: Can bacteria communicate with a baby's developing brain?
"Are the bacteria actually 'communicating' with the developing brain?" wonders Knickmeyer. "That's something that we are working on now, so we're looking at some signaling pathways that might be involved."
She also presents another theory: that the type of bacteria in baby poop is just a substitute or bridge between another factor in brain development. For instance, this could be a baby's diet and nutrition.
4. This is just the first of many more discoveries
This study has no precedent. It is the first to explore the connection between brain development and gut bacteria found in poop.
All these claims may seem far-fetched. And a wider pool of candidates might have to be tested to cement these claims. But researchers are confident this is the first step to more promising discoveries.
For mums and dads, it's always interesting to find new ways to get to know their little one better, even if it's lurking in their diapers!