Gut Bacterium Supports Growth in Infants with Severe Acute Malnutrition; Pilot Study Provides More Evidence Beneficial Bacteria Could Help Treat Malnourished Children

Approximately 18 million children under age 5 suffer from severe acute malnutrition, and over 3 million children die from this condition each year. Treatment with high-calorie supplemental foods and antibiotics can prevent deaths, but these interventions often have limited impact on the long-term effects of severe acute malnutrition, such as persistent stunted growth, disrupted immune function, and impaired brain development. Even when treated with standard therapeutic foods, many children continue to have moderate forms of the disease and are at risk of falling back into severe acute malnutrition. A new study, published April 13, 2022 in Science Translational Medicine, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), shows that a standard milk-based therapy plus treatment with a specific strain of gut bacteria known as Bifidobacterium infantis (B. infantis) for four weeks promotes weight gain in infants with severe acute malnutrition, with accompanying reductions in gut inflammation. The clinical trial was conducted in Dhaka. The article is titled “Bifidobacterium Infantis Treatment Promotes Weight Gain in Bangladeshi Infants with Severe Acute Malnutrition.”

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