Maternal age is correlated with decreased infant gut microbial diversity and changes in eating behaviour


  • Nemat Haroon Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Ali Anwari
  • Jaskirat Malhi


Delay in motherhood to later stages of life has been increasing in many developed countries and has been associated with several negative health outcomes such as a decrease in fertility, increase in cesarian section operations and delay in onset of lactogenesis. These health outcomes associated with increased maternal age have been identified as contributors to microbial diversity in the infant’s gut; however, the effect of maternal age on the infant gut microbiome has not been well understood. Using the dataset generated from 325 infant-mother dyads by Dr. Kyung Rhee and her research group from the University of California, we wanted to investigate the effects mothers aged 30 and above have on the diversity of the infant gut microbiome and other infant health factors compared to their younger counterparts under 30. We identified maternal age as a significant contributor to microbial diversity in the mothers’ gut microbiome. Furthermore, we identified that maternal age does not result in a significant difference in the infant gut microbiome at 2 weeks but has a more significant impact on diversity at 2 months when analyzing diversity metrics that take phylogenetic relatedness into account. Lastly, we found significant correlations between maternal age and infant eating behaviour such as infant food responsiveness, slowness to eat, and number of sucks per feeding session. Our findings demonstrate the important role maternal age plays in microbial diversity in both mothers and infants as well as its role in infant eating behaviour.


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