Gut feelings

6 months ago Comments Off on Gut feelings

Bacterial protection service

ONE of the less-known problems of obesity is that obese mothers are 50% more likely than those of normal weight to give birth to children who go on to develop autism. This correlation is perplexing, but some suspect it is connected to differences between the gut bacteria of the overweight and of those who are not. One researcher who thinks this way is Mauro Costa-Mattioli of Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. He has just published evidence in Cell that, in mice at least, a clear relationship does exist between gut flora, obesity and social behaviour. What is particularly intriguing is that the culprit seems to be a single bacterial species.

Dr Costa-Mattioli and his colleague Shelly Buffington set up a series of experiments, each of which involved feeding 100 female mice a normal diet or a high-fat diet for eight weeks, getting those mice pregnant and then examining both the behaviour and the gut flora of their offspring. To monitor behaviour, the researchers put the pups through tests that measured how long they spent interacting with strangers and with inanimate…Continue reading
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