Iron-deficiency anemia is associated with loss of gut microbial diversity in 6- and 12-month-old infants
Iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most common form of anemia, arising from an inadequate quantity of iron in the body. IDA is especially concerning for young children, as it is linked to neurological dysfunction, immunological deficiencies, and increased mortality. As early life is associated with changes in the human microbiome, we aimed to investigate the effects of IDA on the gut microbiome of 6- and 12-month-old infants. We used a previously generated dataset of 16S rRNA gene sequences to compare diversity metrics, core microbiome analyses, and indicator taxa between IDA and non-IDA reference infants of both age groups. We found that both 6- and 12-month-old infants with IDA had significantly lower microbiome diversities compared to controls. Additionally, the indicator taxa differed between 6- and 12-month-old IDA infants and reference infants. This may suggest IDA could have differential, age-associated impacts on infants. Loss of gut microbial diversity in infants with IDA offers a potential explanation for the cognitive deficits associated with the condition. However, the nature of this relationship remains to be further clarified.