Intestinal Microbiota and Child Health: A Review of the Literature
Mikoto Nakamichi and Dina Madi
This systematic literature review was conducted to explore the current research evidence for the disruption of intestinal microbiota in children with specific chronic health conditions, as well as to identify the effective approach to promote health through healthy intestinal microbiota in children. Of the initial 180 identified articles, 25 articles were reviewed for the synthesis, and three overarching themes emerged: 1) intestinal microbiota and immuno-inflammatory regulation, 2) intestinal microbiota and metabolic balance, and 3) intestinal microbiota and nervous system: gut-brain axis. Findings repeatedly suggested the protective function of Bifidobacteria and butyrate-producing intestinal microbiota in the development of common childhood chronic health problems across the three themes. Additionally, there were consistent findings of the critical windows of significant interactions between the intestinal microbiota and developing organs/physiologic systems of children. Although much research remains to be done to further understand complex interactions between the intestinal microbiota and human physiology. The present literature review revealed the association between dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota and common childhood diseases. Based on this evidence, increasing awareness of the influence of intestinal microbiota and implementing practice to promote healthy intestinal microbiota by pediatric health care professionals could be critical for improving health and well-being in children.