Ohio State University researchers have found that gut bacteria affect a toddler’s temperament. After examining the stool samples of 77 kids aged 18-27 months, the researchers concluded that it was time to step outside and get some fresh air. They also concluded that mood, curiosity, sociability, impulsivity, and — in boys — extroversion were linked to more genetically diverse bacterial species.
“There is definitely communication between bacteria in the gut and the brain, but we don’t know which one starts the conversation,” says the OSU study’s Dr. Michael Bailey. “Maybe kids who are more outgoing have fewer stress hormones impacting their gut than shy kids. Or maybe the bacteria are helping mitigate the production of stress hormones when the child encounters something new. It could be a combination of both.”
Gastrointestinal abnormalities have been linked to “anxiety, depression, autism , and hyperactivity.”Research is focused on how the mood-regulating chemicals get from the gut to the brain, and how that process might be involved in chronic disease. But the implications could be way more pedestrian: Is there a dietary cure for looney toddlers?
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