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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #445369

Research Project: Early Life Factors and Microbiota Impact on Healthy Development

Location: Microbiome and Metabolism Research

Project Number: 6026-10700-001-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 28, 2024
End Date: Feb 27, 2029

1. Evaluate the role of diet and/or physical activity on gut microbiota and its impact on health during different stages of infant and child development. 1.A Investigate the role of physical activity during gestation on microbiome composition, placental function, and immune response during pregnancy and its association to infants’ health in mothers with obesity. 1.B Evaluate how dietary patterns and micronutrient intake during transitionary phases of development (pre-adolescence through adolescence) associate with the gut, immune and brain health of children. 1.C Determine the independent and combined effects of exercise training and fruit and vegetables intake on gut and immune health of children. 2. Investigate the impact of maternal dietary components and early life stress on the gut microbiota and its impact on maternal-child health. 2.A Determine the causal contributions of microbiota during pregnancy on maternal-child health. 2.B Investigate the role of maternal dietary intervention during pregnancy on fetal growth and child health outcomes.. 2.C Determine the impact of stress on milk and gut microbiota and its association to behavioral outcomes. 3. Elucidate the role of gut microbiota and human milk components on offspring health. 3.A Elucidate the role of gut microbiota and milk bioactives on gut, immune system and brain function. 3.B Examine the role of dietary bioactives in microbiota function.

Early life factors (i.e., maternal diet, physical activity, stress, and neonatal diet) play a role in gut microbiota function and lifelong health outcomes. However, the precise mechanisms driving the health outcomes are unknown. The project plan will investigate the impact of the various early life factors on health leveraging clinical studies and animal and in vitro cell culture models. Objective 1 will investigate the impact of maternal physical activity on mitigating obesity-associated effects on the maternal immune system, microbiota, metabolism, placenta, and infant health. In addition, the impact of deficiency in micronutrients and fruit and vegetable intake by children on their gut microbiota, immune system, and brain will be investigated. Objective 2 will investigate maternal diet quality and impact of early life stress on the placenta, fetus, and offspring health. Objective 3 will examine the role of postnatal diet on gut microbiota, immune system, and brain function. The long-term goal is to develop prevention strategies for optimal child health and development. Results obtained from this project plan will inform dietary and physical activity guidelines for pregnancy, early life, and childhood to adolescence.